Monday, 13 July 2009

Pick a card from the deck of memories.

I finally spent last night sorting through all my things from my first year. Two glorious semesters of unit handbooks, readers and folders of lecture notes are now sitting neatly in three decks of shelves -

And all I can think is, "I've survived."

So it was no Hurricane Katrina, but I've somehow survived two sets of exams - both of which involved fair amounts of memorising - and I take comfort in the confidence of knowing I've pulled through, even though the exam results for the second semester are about 72 hours away.

Exactly a week from now, I'll be starting second year - for what is ironically the second time in my life. And yet, I've accomplished so much more in the 12 months Monash has proffered to me, than in 16 months I spent in Lost School. I really refuse to call it anything else.

In Lost School, all I did was, literally, go to school. And come home. Do my essays - which accounted for nothing, btw - and grope blindly through tutorials I couldn't understand. Write piles and piles of notes I could never remember. Life outside school was lost on me - I must've went out a grand total of eight times in the first two years. I woke up every morning with the horrible realisation that Today Is Another Day In Lost School. Another minute, another hour, another day, another year... and excuse my natural tendency to overdramatise, but Life Had Lost All Meaning Beyond School.

In my beloved School of ASS, I've met more people than I had ever imagined meeting on campus grounds - classmates, schoolmates, friends of friends, lecturers, tutors, clerks, managers, cafeteria workers - just people. And more people like me than I've ever expected to meet, those who, too, have taken the straight and narrow path of economics, law, medicine, science, and then struggled with dread - until they found release, and ran into the welcoming arms of the Arts.

I've learned as much outside classroom walls as I've learned within them. I've gone to all my classes, understood tutorials, seen the lightbulb light above my head, and laughed in classes because there was genuinely something to laugh at. I've interned, I've worked, I've volunteered. I've spent money, I've earned money, I've come up with ideas and seen them through. I've learned to care more, I've learned to read the news, I've learned to ... well, cliche as it may sound, but I've learned to live.

Suddenly - everything, anything is achieveable... everything, anything can be done. Water tastes fresher, food tastes better, the sky looks bluer, my lungs feel like they can take in more air - because I have been released from the shackles of my past.

Sometimes, being a Lost School dropout - or quitter, as we like to call ourselves - scares me a little. Because the road ahead in my life is so uncertain. My friends from Lost School have indeed graduated with 2nd class Honours, and an unprecedented majority are going on to do their BVC - a stepping stone touted as virtually unreachable in the past - and in perhaps two years, they'll be lawyers.

And as able as I am to imagine the most unimaginable of things, when I close my eyes, I cannot picture myself in their place. I cannot see myself graduating from Lost School, taking the BVC, chambering, becoming a lawyer, or wearing that ugly wig that'll probably make my head itch. I cannot see myself behind a desk, putting down my RM1,000 signature and billing clients RM500 for every hour of my time. I cannot see myself performing verbal jousts with litigators the likes of Mr Karpal. I cannot see myself consoling abused women in Legal Aid. I cannot see myself poring over cloned real estate contracts in the wee hours of the night, negotiating Tort suits, threatening to sue for defamation. Well, scratch that, I can see anyone doing all of it - but I see no joy in any of it.

Because before any of that is done, there are law exams (which consist of 9 months of study for 3-hour exams where you are forced to regurgitate complex information you will never need to remember in reality), BVC (which consists of regular face-offs with judges set out to make life as difficult as they can for you, not forgetting a ridiculous amount of study in a very short amount of time), and then chambering (where you will easily be the office boy or girl despite all that you are qualified to do, standing at the photocopier machine all day). Just kidding. Chambering could very well be the best part of the Lost School career, prior to being a fully qualified lawyer.

But forget that. That is neither my concern nor the life I've chosen for myself. So what becomes of the path I have in reality picked? Could I be a copywriter, journalist, editor, advertising exec, marketing officer, PR personnel? Are there more options? Where do I go after I graduate?

I can only hope that sometime in the next 24 months that remain of straightforward study and living, the answers come to me. Until then, here's to a bluer sky!