Not Quite An After-Party

As predicted a while ago, the advocacy competition which finished yesterday kept me fiendishly busy.

The short account of things is that we got to the finals, where we lost, but won prizes for best team in the general rounds, best memorial, and I won for best speaker in the finals.

A long account of things, however, will be difficult, since writing about the final here in any amount of detail might be risking defamation suits. It would also make me look like a sore loser, which I am not. I congratulated the winning team with all sincerity. They were a good team, and nice people. I would have been fine with losing to them on an equal playing field, but (through no fault of theirs) that was not the case.

It isn’t really worth writing much more about the final, because it will sound unbelievable to anyone who wasn’t actually there to see it for themselves. All I’ll say is that if it had been a real arbitration proceeding, our team would have had grounds to appeal against the award. I have lost considerable respect for two prominent professionals involved in the final, and if I ever meet them again, I will be hard-pressed to be civil.

At times like this I suppose one is meant to focus on the good things:

  • My wonderful teammates, who did everything I hated (practical stuff like photocopying bundles of authorities) so I could concentrate on everything I loved (the actual advocacy), and kept me supplied with Coke.
  • My co-speaker, who never thought he’d deserved to be chosen to speak, but was so excellent in the finals that I hoped against hope that he’d kept our chance of winning alive.
  • Our amazing coach, who, unlike previous coaches I have had, helped me develop and refine my abilities instead of stifling me with overdirection. I became a much better advocate because of her than I had been before. (And in my not-so-humble opinion, I was pretty damn good before.)
  • Over the course of the competition, certain compliments I received from people (who had no reason to exaggerate or be anything but honest) staggered even egotistical me so much that I’m not actually going to repeat them here.

At any time over the past 5 months, if you had asked me if this damn competition was actually worth it, I would have given a resounding no. Sitting here today, despite what happened in the finals, for the first time ever I’m considering a yes.

There’ll Be A Load Of Compromisin’

Karaoke today was a riot of cheese. The boys were in fine falsetto form with several BeeGees songs – Tragedy was especially successful, they even managed the harmonies – and I went on a one-hit-wonder rampage with Superwoman (Karyn White), If Love Is Blind (Tiffany) and Don’t Cry Out Loud (Melissa Manchester) before caving in to my long-repressed yearning for Rhinestone Cowboy.

Chinese songs were, of course, attempted, but my largely stagnant Chinese music horizons rendered me incapable of singing more than the songs I always sing. K Ge Zhi Wang and Qi Zi were mostly ungarbled, but I didn’t fare quite so well on Ti Or Or. I am now trying to decide whether to embark on the almighty challenge of adding Faye Wong’s An Yong to my repertoire. Right now I think it’s one of the most gorgeous ballads I’ve ever heard (in any language) but it also sounds fiendishly difficult.

Halfway through karaoke, I found out that the moot coaches have chosen the speakers for an upcoming advocacy competition NUS is taking part in. I will have to pass the shipping law arguments I’ve spent the last four months perfecting to my teammate, take on a whole new set of issues, and be lead counsel. By Monday. Apparently this is because I am the strongest speaker. I hope the coaches realize their strongest speaker is now strongly tempted to spend the next three weeks curled up under a table in a fetal position.

Jokes aside, I’m honoured by the choice, because I certainly wouldn’t give such a shit-hard job to anyone I didn’t think had the balls and brains to take it on. But it’s possible updates here in the next couple of weeks might be a little thin on the ground, or at least overly link-based.

Feeling Bullish

It begins again, but surprisingly, I don’t feel the need to say “too soon”.

I still emerge from the torturous number 10 bus to/from NUS feeling like Rip Van Winkle. I still wander around campus feeling translucent and disconnected, as if hoping my real university will come one day to rescue me and take me home.

But none of it is feeling as bad as it did. My Tuesday evening class in Corporate Finance Law actually looks like it will be interesting. Admittedly, during this morning’s excruciatingly boring Evidence lecture I was attached to consciousness only by an increasingly brittle thread, and view my even earlier starts on Thursday and Friday with justifiable trepidation, but even here I am trying to Make The Best Of Things and am hoping this might force my body clock into something less like a prostitute’s.

I’ve found out I got a better grade in last semester’s moot course than about half the people who got into the teams I viewed as more prestigious. This challenges the assumptions underlying a lot of my previous angst about letting myself down through bad performance.

Ming + FS’s Hell’s Kitchen sounds awesome from my new speakers. That has absolutely nothing to do with university but let’s be holistic here.

Most importantly, I’m finally coming round to the view that it has all been, and will be, for the best.

In hindsight, there is almost nothing I would be willing to exchange for the 16 days I could devote to being with Alec when he was here – a freedom that would simply not have been possible if I’d got on the moot team I originally wanted. Distance is still a bitch, but over the next few months it will hopefully become our bitch now that Alec’s going to get broadband.

For the first time in years, I’ve bothered with New Year’s resolutions. Going lindy-hopping again, improving my bowling score, learning to drive, keeping in touch with friends, drinking equal amounts of pure water for all other drinks I have, and taking positive steps to combat my eczema seem realistic enough, and will all make me much happier in Singapore if acted upon.

In the meantime, there are Chinese karaoke songs to perfect, (apparently) a dirt cheap bar in Suntec City to enjoy with Terry and other like-minded lushes, a poetry festival in the offing, rare Múm mp3s available for download on their site, and a beloved boyfriend to call, right now, in fact. Peace out.

In Which I Explain It All

Some explaining is in order. I have made vague occasional references to feeling down over the past few months, but never really went into anything in detail apart from whining about missing London. This entry is mostly for people who know me and want a little more information, but those of you who rubberneck at road accidents are welcome to read it too.
Read More “In Which I Explain It All”

Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is OK

Handy coincidence. I was sitting here trying to think of a way to start this entry, and was looking through my CDs to choose one to play, and hey presto.

So anyway, this entry will be all about how I had a tough exam yesterday, and then had to leave straight after it to go to uni to do a simulated arbitration which I had done zero preparation for and could therefore have really sucked at, and how the day could have gone really badly, but it didn’t at all, and I’m happy. If all that sounds boring to you, that’s probably because it is. Go read The Onion if you’d rather. Otherwise, read on.

Waking up was agony. I used to have to stay up the whole night before most of my O’level prelims, given that I only tended to start studying the entire year’s work at 3 or 4 that afternoon. In the first year of uni, I remember a delirious conversation around 5 am with Esther the morning of the property law exam, trying to work out what the fuck the case Re Vandervell was all about. Those days seem to be gone. Yesterday, I’d stayed up cramming till 4, and woke up at 9 feeling like I’d been hit by a bus.

Sitting jittery outside the exam room hoping that the questions really really wouldn’t require a sound understanding of hedging or forward markets (i.e. the introductory chapter I didn’t understand) or, actually, international trade law at all (i.e. the entire course), that familiar old internal refrain of “In all fairness, Michelle, you don’t really deserve to pass this exam anyway, given this sort of preparation” was seeming as pertinent as ever.

But then the lovely old retiree who’s been invigilating these exams handed me the question paper and oh joy, oh providence, there were questions I could do, although forgetting all my cases couldn’t have helped, and I think I might just have gotten away with this.

I left jubilant, grabbed a coffee, and got on the bus to uni. Prepared doggedly for the arbitration over the next hour or so, fuelled only by a char siew pau and fear of humiliation, and managed to deliver a credible performance despite being mentally dead and feeling somewhat intimidated by the formidable abilities of everyone else. After class, the professor took us all for a drink. I swigged a strangely headless Guinness, got to know my rather personable and engaging coursemates a little better, and generally had a grand time.

Today, in contrast, has been sedate. Woke up in time for lunch. For dessert my mum whipped out a gargantuan tub of chin chow (grass jelly, it’s much nicer than it sounds), and I gorged myself happily. Lazed on the couch. The Discovery travel channel was featuring the World’s Top Ten Seductive Beach Resorts, all of which looked samey and artificial. After a while I got tired of seeing gooey-eyed couples embracing in the sunset, mostly because of my current geographic inability to do the same.

Channel surfing revealed a Hallmark movie featuring an inordinate number of grizzled old men in flat caps and tweed gathered on a rugged beach for a horse and buggy race. It was immediately obvious to me where this movie was set even before anyone opened their mouth and sounded lilting, and the appearance of the prosthetic-eared leprechauns confirmed my suspicions. So anyway this touching love story unfolded between an American, who of course had gone to Ireland to find his roots, and a sassy Irish woman, and there was, like, this PARALLEL love story between a fairy and a leprechaun, and obviously the uniting factor between both love stories was that they come from DIFFERENT WORLDS, and there are all these OBSTACLES to their love, but of course their love TRIUMPHS over all, because doesn’t it always, and at some point I fell asleep.

In Which Zen Calm Eludes Me

Fucking dissertation due today. Fucking moot tomorrow in fucking Lincoln about the fucking law of fucking finding i.e. if Lord Fucker leases his land to Fucker 1 who employs Fucker 2 as a gamekeeper, and Fucker 2 finds an antique brooch one day while walking through the forest, who gets to keep it? DUDE, DO I LOOK LIKE I FUCKING CARE????????

[Hmmmm. An addendum, now that Microsoft Word has finally kindly consented to stop conducting chaos theory experiments with my footnotes. The dissertation is printed. Love dissertation. Love computer. Love printer. I am calm and full of love. Except for the fact that I now need to prepare the moot. Which I still FUCKING HATE.]

Muted Decadence

I must do muted decadence more often, it’s so invigorating. After meeting with Sabrina to prepare for our moot on Wednesday and exchanging mutual affirmations of the absolute direness of our case (Suicide bomber blows up airline, killing everyone. Airline’s colour monitors for screening out bombs weren’t working. We have to say YAY AIRLINE!), lunch at Spiga with Ken was looking distinctly appealing, even if I did meet John on the way and find myself unable to debunk his “Ken is Hannibal Lecter” theory.

After lunch Berwick Street yielded Summer Hymns’ A Celebratory Arm Gesture (only 99p more expensive than the tiramisu at Spiga), the latest issue of Wire and a Sonic Youth T-shirt I’ve been trying to chase down for ages.

In Virgin, the Reckless Records plastic bag and the “Old Skool Jungle Anthems” sign above my head at the listening booth seemed to attract attention from the strangest sorts of people, so after a while I pottered off to other parts of the store to see if I could listen to Fog, The Notwist or John Zorn. I didn’t manage to find any of those, but then they played Will singing Evergreen and that made me happy.

Bookhouse on the way home yielded another copy of Cryptonomicon (for Russ), but I managed to prise Denise Levertov’s collected earlier poems, Pale Fire (Nabokov) and Elmet (Ted Hughes, Fay Godwin) out of my own clammy hands before more damage to the bank balance could be done.

Nighttime revels at my hallmate’s surprise birthday party were hardly Bacchanalian given that its highlights included getting to ruffle my priest’s hair (the one with the imaginary mammaries) and ruminating on whether eating tortilla chips deviated from my Lenten sacrifice (potato chips) due to their corn-based nature. (Another weighty dilemma: If I’ve given up Coke, what about Dr Pepper?)

But muted decadence is all I can manage right now. The moot is tomorrow, my point of law absurdly impossible to argue, and the prospect of sleep tonight absurdly impossible to contemplate.

Moot Win/Pacha London/Dom Boots

Miscellaneous disjointed updates:

After spending more time and energy thinking about eyelash-tinting than mentally healthy, I’m pleased to report that we won Wednesday’s moot and are in the next round of the competition. Notable successes of the day included restraining ourselves from referring to Jennifer Lopez’s butt insurance while trying to argue that “Demi Massinger”, the model suing our beautician client, could bloody well have gone and insured her eyelashes if they were that important to her career. Also satisfactory was our efficient downing of Screaming Orgasms and peach margaritas in the 20 minutes we had in the pub before we had to catch the train back to London. A rather fulfilling day.

Don’t bother with Pacha London on a Friday night unless you want to see the tackiest chandelier ever, and pay nearly twice the price (£15!) for half the quality of music you can get in Turnmills. The crowd was friendly and unpretentious, though, which is always good. Even Martini Breath Guy who felt it was very very important to talk to me in order to promote the interaction of Western and Eastern cultures, and who simply couldn’t understand that my name was not Mya-Chung or Mi-Choo or something else vaguely Oriental sounding, was amusing for about ten minutes.

The dominatrix boots have received their first wearing. I managed to teeter quite successfully through the Egyptian and Greek sections of the British Museum, although staircases raised minor issues. Teething problems. I’ll whip these boots into shape soon enough.

Django is showing me love for the first time in a long while. Goodbye 20th Century (Sonic Youth) and Sounds From The Gulf Stream (Marine Research) are hopefully pootling their way across the Atlantic to me. Yay.

I didn’t win the moot

I didn’t win the moot finals, but I’ve never cared less about losing something in my life.

I’d spent the entire night (well, the entire night after watching King Lear at the Globe) trying to convince rebellious hordes of personal junk into neat compartmentalized existence (apologies to corridor-mates whose sleep might have been interrupted by country n’ western, gospel and opera renditions of The Star Spangled Banner, which was one of the ways I was trying to make myself less miserable, in between swigs of Jack Daniels), and the standoff didn’t end till noon the next day, where I had to switch my attentions from packing to writing my submissions for the moot, which was in seven hours (in terms of preparing for a moot, this is a ludicrously short amount of time).

So I didn’t win, but the girl who did win obviously put a great deal more effort into it than I did, so hey, congratulations, Dee. Now I might have to take part in the damn competition again next year just to beat you.

Meanwhile, today has been spent smiling sweetly at Budgens, Cullens and Boots employees in order to persuade them to give me boxes (of the cardboard, not bruising, variety), booking debating tournament rooms with Mark and the very conscientious but rather bizarre room-bookings lady, who felt the need to tell us that her skirt was riding up and how embarassed she was, and battling dust demons in the loft.

I’m tired. And dusty.

Tooting My Moot Horn

Okay. Some positivity just scampered up and blew a raspberry at some of the stuff I wrote below.

I won the moot, despite having to argue an unwinnable point of law. I’m now in the finals of the competition.

This is exceptionally sweet, firstly because I did actually spend the past couple of days killing myself for this moot. I might try this advance preparation thang again in future. It was hell while it lasted, but once the moot itself began, and the judge started asking me how I had the audacity to argue against all existing authority, the fun began. Confrontations and battles of wits are my fetish. They give me mojo.

It also makes my entire effort in this competition worthwhile. I don’t actually like mooting, but I had to take part in the competition again this year, because I lost in the quarter-finals last year to people I didn’t respect intellectually, judged by a judge I didn’t respect intellectually either. She didn’t ask me any questions during my speech, and chucked me out of the competition without ever giving me the chance to show that I could stand up to questioning, which is a crucial requirement of successful mooting.

Well. You were wrong, bitch. Don’t come watch me in the finals, because you’re not invited.

Other (and less nastily expressed) sources of positivity are people who did give a damn. Oliver abandoned his own work to help me last night, replying to my guilty “Oh, please don’t bother with this if you’re busy” protestations with “Fuck my company law essay, this is much more important.” Esther took on the job of moot clerk, which involves two hours of incredible tedium, requires brute strength in hefting musty law reports around, and can only be a labour of love for anyone who subjects themself to it. Nick text messaged support and good wishes.

I might well feel depressed again some time soon, but for now I’m gonna go back to my room, read e.e. cummings and listen to Built To Spill. Yeah.