Issue 13, Volume 18
I’ve been thinking a lot about stories recently. About how they’re told, what they do and what they mean. How they are crafted, and lately in particular, how they end. If 2020 were a story, this would be a good time to start thinking about the ending. The end of week twelve, the end of semester, the end of the year. For some of us the end of our time at law school, the end of some of the friendships we made and the end of the things we did here. It is also appropriate that this week was another type of ending - the end of a lockdown that has, almost without break, dictated the shape of our city and our lives for the better part of this year. None of these are perfect or definitive endings of course. There are still all those annoying residual details such as exams, three-and a half year extensions, and that pesky global pandemic that’s still going on even if the stores have reopened. But to quote my old boss from her farewell last year, ‘it’s important to do justice to narrative arcs where we can.’
You would think then that with all the plot threads wrapping up it’d be a buyer’s market for thematic resolution. Truthfully however, I’m finding it difficult to come up with anything sufficiently reflective or profound to mark the occasion. There aren’t many things that aren’t worth saying at least once, but almost anything worth saying about the experience of 2020 is probably a cliché by now. Like I’m sure most of you are, at this point I’m just tired. I want to see my old friends again. I want to go visit my mum. We’ve all experienced isolation, estrangement, and fatigue. We survived. What else is there that needs to be said?
But this is also a difficult ending for me personally. I have been a part of this magazine for three years now, including two on its editorial board. It is hard not to look upon my leaving it with a certain sentimentality. Being the scrappy school newspaper - which with some regularity fills out its line-up with jokes, scribbles, and limericks - maintaining some humility about our relative importance is pretty much an occupational necessity. But I do think the work we do here is important. Over the years I heard students debating submissions in the elevators and hallways. I have had faculty tell me before class how much they enjoyed a recent article. I have seen (albeit more rarely) genuine and insightful discussion in our comment threads. Through the writers as well, I have gotten to see a side of the law school and its students that we normally keep hidden. I have read hundreds of pieces – essays on literature, movies, music, and politics. Comedies and tragedies, fiction, crosswords, comics, poems, and love letters. Sometimes people disparage the culture of the law school, calling it elitist, sanitized, and artificial, but I think this is untrue. If you spend some time browsing the pages of De Minimis, you will see the frustrations, angers, and heartbreaks of the students here, as well as their moments of reflection, sincerity, sensitivity, compassion, and humour.
Which brings me to the theme that I’ve been trying to push all year – to look at De Minimis not simply as a platform for occasionally interesting articles – but as a part of this school’s culture and community. Not that it’s our place to guide that culture, or to speak for that community, but perhaps we have the privilege to tell a few of its stories every now and then. I hope that this year we have done a good job of that, because those stories are important. Sometimes we tell those stories to change things, to educate or learn. Sometimes we tell stories to make ourselves laugh, or cry. Sometimes just because we have a story to tell and we hope that somebody wants to hear it. Stories shape us, the tellers, and the listeners. After a story, even if the world itself hasn’t changed, the wallpaper has, and things mean something different to what they meant before.
And the best stories aren’t the ones that just end – they’re the ones that new people take over and start telling for themselves instead.
So, for some of us, this is the end, at least of our part in the story of De Minimis. I hope that it was a good story. I hope that some of it was worth writing down. And I hope that when the next person tells it, that they’ll tell it with some new ideas, some new characters, and some new lessons. And that when they do, that they’ll tell it even better than the last time.
Michael Franz is a third-year JD student and the departing Editor-in-Chief of De Minimis.
Editor's Note: It's been a ball, best of luck with exams and see you next year!