law school

brain matter

Well, here I am…still in Saskatoon. Woot! I have had a lot of interesting experiences and some that required some major reflection. Also some experiences that required me to just forget about them (at the moment). This program that I am attending out west is really intense. You know when someone tells you something is going to be hard but you are all like, “Naaaaah!” No, this is really hard and intense and … I am certain there is a dirty joke in there somewhere but I can’t think about it at the moment. To describe this program in a few words is like a “make or break you.” But there are tons of supports in place to ensure you don’t break too! It is sometimes a little overwhelming (in a good way). Nevertheless, I am very grateful to be out here.

Last week (I think–it might have been this week–all the weeks just blend together), there was a former student that presented and he mentioned something that really resonated with me. I am constantly feeling like I have no idea what the fuck I am doing. I used to say that I had no idea what I was doing in undergrad but literally, I have no idea what I am doing. But anyway this presenter continued and mentioned that sometimes you will experience this. He then continued to say that what got him through those times was knowing his capability to problem solve. So obvious, right? Maybe.

This law school thing definitely requires a different style of thinking. I am used of thinking of the big picture and seeing how systems are connected and inform each other (systems like the criminal justice system). I am trying to think of ways to reframe that style of thinking to fit this new style of thinking. But I am so used of looking at the bigger picture that I sometimes miss the details (and sometimes that isn’t good). Whatever I learned in undergrad I just need to forget (or at least put on the side). Then I remember that when I first went into undergrad, whatever I learned in college, I needed to just forget. Then I remember feeling like, “Crap! I have no idea what the hell I am doing!” So, it’s like all those experiences over again but magnify them 200x. Yeah, that is what this is like–this law school thing.

Bill #C36, #sexwork, and #lawschool

Last week was a really hard week for me. I am away at a pre-law program designed for Indigenous students and to help them excel in law school. You can read more about that program here. 

Coincidentally, I also received my first assignment last week and boy was it a slap in the face (no biggie, I took it as a learning opportunity). But it wasn’t this assignment that made last week hard though many thought it was. What made it difficult was the Department of Justice introducing Bill C-36, which is in response to the Bedford v. Canada decision (I also wrote about it here).

On Tuesday, which was the night before the Bill was to be introduced, I spent trying to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for what was to come tomorrow—the Bill. I was definitely on edge and felt really isolated and alone not being able to talk about what was about to happen.

That’s the thing with sex work activism and being out as a former or current sex worker, it can definitely feel very alienating and isolating (even if you are out as a former sex worker). One must take into consideration how others will perceive them: will I be judged for my choices? Will I be further stigmatized? Will I have someone to talk about what is going on in my life without being judged? Just to name a few…

Tuesday came and went. I knew I could expect the worst because of the government’s previous statements to the media: prostitution is inherently dangerous and prostitution is violence against women. Yet after the Bill was released on Wednesday afternoon, I didn’t expect to be it even worse than I had imagined. I spent the day in and out of the bathroom getting sick and also crying. That night I went out for some wine (alone—not the brightest thing to do but I didn’t know what else to do…I also have a hard time reaching out for help). That night I also cried after I returned from home. I just wanted to scream, “These are people’s lives you are messing with!” Like actual real people who will be forced to put themselves into the pathway of danger if this Bill is enacted! People like my friends and their families…

Today, while I was out walking and getting some of the things I needed for next week, I started to think of another sex work activist, Wendy Babcock. She was also a law student. However, she committed suicide in her third year of law school. An article commemorating her memory (and also talking about how students rallied together to remember her) reads,

Halfway through her second year at Osgoode Hall Law School, she was struggling with money, housing, her health, and loneliness…“I don’t belong here,” she told me over lunch at the graduate students lounge that day. “They come from really nice upbringings and I come from the gutter. They’re not engaged in the same issues as I am.”[1]

I definitely don’t feel out of place in this program as I am sitting aside other Indigenous law students. But after last week, I definitely felt alone and isolated. I even met with the director of the program and I admitted that I don’t feel like I belong here–it was because of the fact I was a former sex worker and I wasn’t sure who I could talk to about this Bill. So when I re-reading these articles, I noticed I shared Wendy’s feelings—loneliness and not belonging. I didn’t know how to say to the director though, “Yeah I don’t feel like I belong here, as a (out) former sex worker, and because of this Bill that came out today and this Bill is worse than I ever imagined.” There really isn’t much of a sex work community in this city either. However, after talking to my sex work friend on the phone today, I was a little bit relieved. The response elsewhere in Canada to the Bill has been positive (or on the side of sex workers) and people are beginning to realize the realities of sex workers’ lives and how laws affect their livelihood and safety.

I thought, what was going through Wendy’s mind during her final year. Did she feel alone? Did she feel isolated? Did she feel alienated? Then I thought, “If this is what law school was like for her, do I have to look forward to something similar?” Then I was reminded of my best friend’s words to me on the day I said that I wanted to give up on my undergraduate degree at Western, “If you give up or drop out, I will slap you.” She would have slapped me, literally (lol). I miss her dearly. She was also a sex worker who committed suicide. In a previous post I shared a note from my personal journal. That entry read, “I had a dream I was going to U of Ottawa.” In the rest of the original entry which I didn’t post to my blog, it reads, “But there were a lot of obstacles and it was really hard to finally get there.” If this is just one of those obstacles, then I (hopefully) will be able to overcome what else is to emerge.

Rest in Power Wendy and Michelle

 

[1] http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/04/27/porter_tragic_wendy_babcocks_legacy_still_growing_at_osgoode_hall_law_school.html

The reality is…

Congratulations! You’ve been admitted to law school.

Then reality hits in, and you realize that it is hella-mutha-fuckin expensive.

I am struggling right now and I know I should just finish my final year and my final semester with a big bang! But I can’t. I just can’t…I have been struggling to accept this reality as of lately. I know I am not alone in this reality. I just wish more people would talk about it. Undergraduate school is fuckin expensive…now law school?! Fuck.

When I first started researching the application process for law school, I remember reading all these blogs about how hard the LSAT would be. I didn’t read one blog on how much it actually cost. At the time, I was living and working in northern Alberta so that cost to write the test wasn’t that bad. I mean, it was still quite high. All I could think about was other students who might not have a job or extra funds to even write the test.

One step down.

I didn’t do as well as I thought I would on the test but I did better than what I was doing in my practice tests. So, it wasn’t that bad. After receiving my LSAT results back, I still applied to two law schools. I wish I could have applied to more, even as others provided the advice, “apply to as many law schools as you can.” Two law schools was all I could afford. What my research into the application process didn’t tell me was that the more law schools you apply to you, the more expensive your application becomes.

Two steps down.

Today, I am sitting here at school and I literally just want to give up. Why? The reality is that law school is fuckin expensive. I am struggling to finish my last month of my undergraduate degree. I mean, I am in a good position to make a decision to either give up or to continue on. I mean, if I give up, I can always go the MA route. It isn’t that bad of a situation to be in. I struggle with these decisions as of lately, MA route vs. law school. I wonder sometimes if it would have been better for me to take the route that offered me a summer job and guaranteed funding. Sounds pretty easy doesn’t it? I guess I should say, I’ve been in worse decisions and this isn’t the worst place to be in. But I am struggling.

It isn’t by accident that these barriers exist, not just for me but for others like me. I struggle having to think about what I am supposed to do next. I thought to write this post because I felt that in my research none of the blog posts talked about this—the reality that law school is fuckin expensive including the application process. There were plenty of blog posts on how hard the LSAT was, how to improve your score, how to study better, how to write your statement for your application, etc. etc. Maybe we should also begin conversations around this reality: how expensive law school actually is including how expensive it is to just apply to law school.

Yes, you might cry while preppin for your LSAT. Yes, you might cry during the actual test. Yes, you might cry over your final LSAT score. Yes, you might cry because you are applying on the final day to submit your OLSAS (law school application service) application. Yes, you might cry when you realize you completed the hardest steps. Yes, you might cry because you received your letter (and you either got in or you didn’t). But truth is, you might also cry because you are in a situation where you don’t know what the hell you are doing with your life because the reality is, law school is fuckin expensive (just as expensive as the application process is).

In closing, I will say this, people have been asking me what I am doing in the fall and it’s stressful too. I don’t know what I am doing in the fall. I am working on finishing graduating first because I won’t be able to go anywhere unless I graduate first–I guess I didn’t have this dream for nothing.

 

Note: Please use this post as a cue to reach out to others who have attended law school (or who are currently attending law school). There are people that want to help you and if it wasn’t for the people that have helped me along the way (up until this point), I probably would be struggling a lot more than I actually am. I am thankful for those people. ❤