Monday, July 30, 2007

the bar exam: postpartum...

okay, so it's been not-quite-a-week and i haven't written about the bar exam on this blog yet. so wtf's up with that?

well, the bar exam was an effing horrible experience. i have never in my life felt so utterly defeated as i did by the end of each of those days. the strange thing is that for the morning sessions on each day (tuesday was essay day, wednesday was multistate multiple choice day) i felt okay, as if maybe i wasn't totally acing the thing, but that i was gonna pass. but after the afternoon sessions on both days, i was convinced (am convinced?) that i'll be back in that cold cold cold (as in meat-locker-cold) convention center room in february to take the thing again.

the test really was terrible. i mean, who the hell knows the standard for a rule 59(a) motion? and nobody ever told us that we should be on the lookout for a billion multiple choice questions about jury instructions! it does calm my soul a bit that all of my friends seemed to feel just as defeated by the test. but it's just so frustrating that i'm not going to know the outcome until october! should i get rid of the barbri and PMBR books? should i trash my notes and my flashcards? or is it smarter if i just set them aside temporarily? how powerful is positive thinking? and is positive thinking completely futile at this point? because what's done is done.


the strangest part of this, however, is the really pervasive depression that has set in since the bar exam has been over. i don't know what to do with myself. i haven't cleaned my apartment or done laundry (things that desperately need to be done and haven't been done very well in a long time), i've only made a cursory attempt to apply to jobs. these are things i can and should do. but i feel totally let down. maybe it would be different if i had felt that i kicked ass on the bar exam, but somehow i doubt it. i think this is bar exam postpartum. you spend three years with your life run by law school, then a summer with your life run by the bar exam, and then you just kinda tuck-and-roll and dust yourself off and realize you've got nothing. at all. to do.

ugh. i wish i had a job. i wish i didn't need a job. i wish i had become a gardener or a landscape architect or a seamstress.


Monday, July 23, 2007

the final countdown...

will someone please explain to me how my brain has insta-access to various pump-you-up songs from 80s movies (generally accompanying an inspirational montage) but it struggles to remember dependent relative revocation or when specific acts are admissible character evidence?

today i've had such songs as "you're the best" by joe esposito (from the karate kid) and "there's no easy way out" from the rocky movies (it's a really really bad 80s rock-out song) and "eye of the tiger", which i actually sang out loud in the shower this morning.

bar exam starts tomorrow! time for emily to eat lighting and crap thunder!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


here's a little known fact about me: i love matryoshka dolls, those little wooden russian nesting dolls. you may remember them from those old stop motion shorts from sesame street.

i love them. i don't know what it is about them. i'm sure we could all come up with our own psychoanalytic theories about why these little dolls have found their way into my heart, but i'm content with knowing that they make me happy.

now, lest you think i love all russian nesting dolls equally, i do not. a lot of them are a little too cartoony for my liking. i'm a simple girl with simple tastes -- anything too flashy makes me feel confused. but the ones that manage to meet my weird standards are ones that will forever have my love.

there is one set of nesting dolls that i love more than all others. this particular set was given to me by my parents when i was a little girl. my mom and dad got it somewhere on some trip for something that i was too young to remember, and they brought the set of dolls back to me as a souvenir. i forgot all about it when i went off to college, and only in recent years has it drifted into my mind again.

but there have been many events that have transpired since my pre-college days that could have led to the demise of my beloved matryoshka dolls: my dad moved to a different house, lots of stuff (and all of my old stuff) got put into storage, big bad hurricane katrina destroyed a lot of that stuff in storage. i had basically given up on the hope that my little dolls and i would be reunited...

but on a lark, the other day i sent my dad an e-mail asking if he knew where that little doll set had gone, and, if it was around, could he send it to me.

tonight i got an e-mail from dad with this attached:

isn't she fantastic?!?! she's just as beautiful as i remembered her!!! dad's going to pack her safely and mail her to me! somehow just knowing this still exists brings great joy to my soul. hooray!

four study days left...

i cried today. studying for the bar exam made me cry. i've had several bouts of panic/stress/anxiety about this stupid test, but today was the first time i actually cried! and you want to know why i cried? i bombed a practice essay question because i couldn't come up with terroristic threats as an offense from the facts. i got the others -- i came up with receiving stolen property and conspiracy, but not terroristic threats. i thought maybe it was assault. (???!??!?!) oh, and on another question, i failed to recall the doctrine of incorporation by reference.

i think i need this to be over soon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

as of today... lungs are six months smoke-free! awesome!

emily has minimum competency, across the board...

the following is an e-mail conversation had today between sandy, krista, and me. it started with some stupid spam message that i got in my e-mail account; it was one of those all-jibberish messages. enjoy!
> Subject: continued debut alpine
> californium cashew, depredate clash courtesy, agreed abigail. cleave bootstrapping autumn chromatic classify chalkline bully. absorbent croft coralberry cryptic companion blanch adjourn danny contraceptive chimera budweiser adulate. bloodshed consummate ailanthus calamity asynchronous carrot decorate

with subject: it's like the spam e-mails are coming from my own brain...
> ...because the following is pretty similar to the caliber of thoughts i'm having lately:
[forwarded spam-a-lot message from above]

>I was just thinking about absorbent croft coralberry, too! Weird.

>I didn't know you knew Agreed Abigail.
>You guys, my brain is numb.

>yes. brain numb. i go need coffee and change scenery. i go [shadyside coffee shop] now. kbye.

>I guess "my brain is numb" is a better way to express what is going on in my dome than "my brain is hard." The former is subject to less confusion.

>"my brain is hard" makes me think of the petrification process. wait, is "petrification" a word? is "petrified" a thing? like that happens? petrified wood. am i making that up? like when trees get really old and the wood turns stone-like? omigoodness i could be totally making this up!

this is not my beautiful house! this is not my beautiful wife!

letting the days go by,

>I feel nauseous. And my FUCKINGspacebardoesn'twork.

>well, it's a good thing you're not preparing for the ... wait for it... space bar exam!



one more week...

i wonder how i'm possibly gonna decompress after this exam is over? i've gotten into a pattern of falling asleep by listing the tests for equal protection levels of scrutiny or the felonies that trigger the felony murder rule or the elements of misrepresentation... what will i do when i no longer need to know that stuff?

but i've reached the point at which i'm dumping the things that are still giving me grief. e.g., character evidence. so help me, i can never ever get those stupid character evidence rules organized in my head! so, i'm giving up. i'll probably get those questions incorrect on the multistate exam. this is okay -- i'll get other questions correct. and mortgages? screw you, mortgages! you are an impenetrable dark land in my world. but i finally figured out how to deal with recording statutes, and i'm no longer afraid of the commerce clause.

those essay subjects, however? those are a different story...

back to work for me! regardless, this will all be over a week from wednesday...


overheard in pittsburgh...

this morning, carson and i got breakfast in regent square. there was a group of adolescents at a table near us, ranging in age from what i'd estimate to be 8 to 13 (although i'm really bad at guessing the ages of children). the kids all seemed to be related (cousins perhaps) and some of them were british.

these kids all roll in, climb into seats around the table, the waitress hands them menus and takes their drink orders (they ordered juices and diet cokes) and they begin to discuss their food options. the oldest of this crew was one of the brits. he had the kind of really big curly hair that seventh grade boys have these days and one of those awkward-featured faces that seventh grade boys have had for all time. he declared, in his pubescent-british accent and in a louder-than-necessary tone, "by order of the eldest child, there will be NO french fries!" he made this statement no fewer than four times.

not even needing to eavesdrop, i learned that these kids were going to kennywood later and they were obsessive about low-fat foods. and when the waitress came back to take their orders, the eldest-child-qua-monarch forbade them from going with the homefries option, too, because homefries are just as unhealthy as french fries.

now, i'll admit to being more-full-than-usual of the rage lately. i blame the dear bar examiners. but i was a wee bit annoyed by this table of kids. sure, i applaud their very un-american focus on eating healthy food, especially without adult supervision, but if i were a skinny kid and my cousins-from-another-country started imposing rules about what i could and couldn't order by virtue of being older than me, i would have had a thing or two to say about it.

but, ah the "by order of the eldest child..." bit. awesome! there were many giggles had at my table at the thought of all british children being enamored of ideas of birthright and inherited sovereignty and absolutist decrees and stuff. oh yes, your highness, there will be no french fries!

viva la revolution! generalizations are fun!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

what not to say...

several months ago my dad told me that he saw the son of a friend of his somewhere, a kid who was a new lawyer, and the kid told him that studying for the bar exam was the worst experience of his life. my dad passed that along to me, likely thinking this would make me realize that others have gone through the experience and have lived to tell about it. however, in response to this story i had two immediate thoughts:

1. this kid is an idiot. i know who he is and he's an idiot. and if studying for the bar exam is the worst thing he's ever experienced, well, i feel justified in declaring him an idiot.

2. to date, the "worst experience" of my life was waking up in the recovery room after having a brain biopsy, groggy and in a lot of pain, with a blonde woman resident from eastern europe standing over me and telling me, "miss mcnally? we didn't find fluid, that means it wasn't a cyst or an abscess. it looks like this is a tumor." yeah. beat that, bar exam!

now, with only two weeks to go before the bar exam, i have some additional thoughts on this matter. i vehemently stand by points 1 and 2 above, but i wish to distinguish this bar exam thing from other bad experiences in my life...

everybody goes through periods of stress and strife and anxiety. my "BFF TD" and i have discussed on several occasions that one of the reasons our friendship has worked so well is because somehow we've managed to time our freaky-outy-ness so that we're not freaking out simultaneously. however, all of those wonderful friends that law school has put into my life? you know, the people whose praises i've sung and on whom i've come to rely over the past three years? well, these days we're ALL going through stress and strife and anxiety over the SAME DAMN THING which means we're at a limited capacity to be supportive to each other. we're all kinda like, "oh yeah? you're stressed out about the bar exam? really? the bar exam? what, is that coming up or something? yeah? well, join the club." practically speaking, this means that we're all inadvertently contributing to each other's stress/strife/anxiety levels. and although we're all in the same boat, it feels a little lonely since the only folks who know what this is like are in the wrong position to help make it better.

in normal communication with people in the world, when one talks to someone who expresses feelings of stress, there seem to be two automatic responses: (1) "don't worry -- you'll be fine!", or (infuriatingly) (2) "well, think of [some person/situation/time that you really don't care about]. it could be worse!"

look, folks in the world, i know you're trying to help by telling me i'll be okay or that things could be worse. and objectively, rationally, i KNOW that i'll be okay and that things could be worse. but this is the same as telling someone who's just lost someone that s/he loves that the deceased is "in a better place." it's not about the deceased being better off -- this is grief! grief belongs to the griever. whether the deceased is better or worse is really kind of irrelevant.

see what i'm getting at? stress/strife/anxiety(/grief, by association) is NOT objective or rational. these things are at the core of what makes us imperfect humans -- it's the fear that what we want to happen just might not happen the way we want it to. and that's a little terrifying. when folks say, "don't worry, you'll pass the bar exam," or "at least you're not also trying to do X, Y, and Z and pass the bar exam!" or "at least so-and-so is in a better place," although the intent of these things is good, the result has a dangerous tendency to belittle or devalue the very real feelings of stress/strife/anxiety(/grief, by association) that people go through.

what would i rather you say? i dunno... maybe just acknowledge that this is a really big deal and that my stress is warranted. i think that would be enough. i don't want pity -- i don't think i'm some sort of victim, nor am i unaware that this is something i chose to do. i just don't want to have to defend myself in my anxiety.

again, this is not the worst experience of my life, nor should it be. but i just put in three years of blood, sweat, and tears (well, maybe not the blood, but definitely the sweat and tears) to earn my law degree. why? because i want to be a lawyer. and if i don't pass this stupid bar exam, i don't get a license and i don't get to practice law. so, really, thinking of things in my life/world/experience, this IS a big freaking deal! this is a major hurdle in my chosen career. it's the biggest hurdle to date in my professional life. will there be bigger ones down the line? probably, but those are irrelevant at this point.

so yes, i'm stressed out. and yes, i know that i'm not going to sprout horns or go blind if i fail the bar exam. and yes, i realize that things could be a lot worse. but my elevated stress level is 100% justified and real. and this, too, shall pass.

that's all for now.


i grew them all by myself! see?

(there were lots more, but i kinda ate them because they're delicious!)

Monday, July 09, 2007

i could still be a senator...

i heard a rumor that hillary clinton failed the bar exam the first time she took it. hillary clinton! and she's freaking brilliant!

literally, friends, i'm steeling myself up for the reality that i might not pass the bar this time around. that doesn't mean i've resigned myself to defeat -- it means that i'm trying to be realistic, given that i've hit this awful plateau where i can't seem to get more than 50% of the multistate questions correct.


two and a half more weeks of this crap. let's hope that's enough time.

Monday, July 02, 2007

some thoughts about getting hitched...

so, some people i care about a whole hell of a lot are either getting married soon, have recently officially gotten engaged, or just had a secret wedding this past weekend!

in the midst of all the crap and anxiety that have been haunting my little world as a result of the boo-hoo bar exam, this whole friends-getting-hitched thing brings me a lot of much-welcomed joy. and yes, i know that's corny as hell. keep reading -- it gets worse!

here's the thing: we all know couples who probably shouldn't be together, couples that are together for the wrong reasons, couples who fall out of love. from time to time we've all had broken hearts, lonely hearts, hearts worn on sleeves, bleeding hearts, heartsickness. sometimes i really think that with all the variables and circumstances in the world, it's a wonder that anybody finds anybody else...

...but it does happen. and it works. and it's fantastic! and i guess the silly, schoolgirly, gushy part of me is a little bit in love with the truth that good people find other good people. and i really believe that when good people have other good people who love them and appreciate them and respect them, then the individual goodness gets even better, becomes capable of true greatness. and that, my friends, makes the world a better place.

these four couples that i'm thinking about as i'm writing this post are each making weddings that are their own. in the mix there's a traditional church wedding, a wedding that is only recognized legally in massachusetts, even a tiny wedding in the park. but no matter how they've chosen to conduct the ceremony, the consistency is that they're brilliant, strong people with good hearts who have decided to share their lives with someone else in a really remarkable way. and these are all couples who should be together, couples who are together for the right reasons, couples who will make each other stronger and better for years to come.

so, to those amazing friends of mine who have chosen to take the plunge, make the commitment, exchange the vows, please allow me to be so starry-eyed as to thank you for making my world a little better, and for giving me happy things to think about (instead of really boring stuff like part performance or fee simple determinable).

okay. i'm done now.