Day one of the BAR

Please note this post has absolutely nothing to do with questions on the NY BAR exam, rather is is a record of the experience.

I woke up today at 5:05 a.m. That is you do not count the few minutes I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and then went back to bed. I had dreams of statutes of limitations and bizarre problems that I think answered in legal musical form. Finally awake, my body refused to allow me to sleep anymore. My brain probably didn’t fancy the idea of me singing another chorus of some bizarre legal inspired melody. I was surprised I was alert, and as I got into the shower I began mentally reviewing my precious note cards that I had memorized. I narrowed my notecards to a small 30 or so, and none of the backs had long answers. These, I told myself, where the core things I needed to have committed to memory.

BBE was surprisingly alert as I turned on the shower he said “good morning!” in a manner far more chipper than the hour would usually warrant. I smiled to myself thinking, I could never do this without him, and it he is a big reason I need to do well today. So once I had thoroughly warmed myself in the shower and satisfied myself with my random memorization I got dressed. The clocks and bells all clanged alerting me it was no 5:45. This was when I had planned to wake-up. Instead, I was practically read to go by this point, and we were in the car before 6:00 a.m.

I needed a song. I needed a sign. I needed….a showtune. So thanks to BBE securing us a car with the delightful XM radio, I flipped to my old favorite broadway station and was absolutely delighted to hear Lea Michelle belt out “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from the incredible cast recording of GLEE. This was definitely the way I wanted this morning to go. This was an anthem of hope, perseverance, and I felt myself infused with the energy of the song.

Not wanting to break with tradition, I had us go to starbucks, where drowsy barrista’s where just starting to unwrap the plastic of the baked goods I was going to consume, but thankfully not one of them batted an eye when I ordered my “Iced, Quad, Venti, Non-fat Latte” and I was happy to not have to explain it.

After getting my lemon pound cake and coffee we got in the car, and made our way to the test site. Granted we were supposed to arrive around 7:30. We made it by 6:20 or so, and so I had BBE drive around a little. I reviewed my notecards once more, and a few notes I had jotted down as things I should remember.  Finally I knew any more reviewing would do more harm than good and so BBE drove me to the site.

The site was not open and I couldn’t tolerate the idea of sitting on the cold steps next to a bunch of law students all of whom are nervous and non of whom I knew. So BBE waited with me in the car, till the XM radio failed us, and the time drew closer to 7:30. Around 7:10 or so I left BBE whose morning “happy face” was beginning to understandably wane, and I stepped out onto the street with my laptop bag on my arm.

As the time for the test site to open grew closer, students I knew began to show up, and a great sigh of relief washed over me. Many of the students names I had forgotten, but I knew their faces, and they knew mine. We began making sad jokes and describing the terrible process of studying, and I was amazed at how happy we all were.

We were happy today was here, and soon it would be over. The idea of it nearly ending was enough to make all of us smile.

As my bag was searched the security guard reviewed my Texas drivers license with great intrigue. He muttered something that I had come along way, wondered if I lived here, to which I said “I live in Jersey.”, and he said, “Okay. New York doesn’t need any more lawyers.” To which I smiled, and left to find my seat. The usher who showed me my seat called me “Honey” then apologized for doing so and began to nervously defend her use of the term based on the fact she was a mother. This made me smile. I told her I was from the south, so I understood. I was reminded of home. I was reminded how far I have come. I was reminded of another reason to do well today.

I found my seat, and someone was already sitting at the small table. The table sat two people. This person was going to be the person I took the test next to for the next two days. We exchanged some rather random observations, I asked where he went to law school, and things. Realizing neither of us had bothered to introduce ourselves I gave my name, and he told me his name was Adam. Adam was a great student to take the BAR next to. Quiet but not unkind. Didn’t mind my nervous chat, but also produced a calming aura.

After a time that felt like forever, the exam administrator passed out the packets and we were read a long list of instructions. Before I knew it the test had begun.

I hate ripping sealed test booklets. In 7th grade, the first time I was asked to do this, I didn’t understand the instruction, and everyone had already ripped them open, and when I tried I remember I tore half the first page. THANKFULLY I’ve matured since then, and got into my booklet with minimal tearing.

I began pouring myself into the first question, which seemed insanely long. I then realized that I was reading an essay question, and my first thought was “I just wasted 3 minutes….great.” I flipped to the correct part of the book and began the multiple choice questions. To my delight I heard many a fluttering of pages, including Adam to my right, shortly after I began to flip. Many of us had incorrectly read the first question as a multiple choice question. Not an essay. My heart relaxed and I realized I was not alone. The test came and went. I didn’t know everything, but I knew enough.

At lunch I was alone. BBE was off hitting the baseball hall of fame, and so I walked a few blocks to find a spot that wasn’t hounded by law students. I finally found a somewhat less busy pizzeria but ran into the back to finally find a non-crowded restroom! Relieved I returned, ordered my slice, and got my soda. The restaurant seemed to have a funny way to serve people. The guy asked at the front quickly what each patron wanted, I told him, and he said “Okay. I bring it to you later.” I figured that he would, so I waited to pay and sat down. Then random people kept asking what I had ordered and eventually I was given my plain cheese slice of pizza. I am not sure it was made because I ordered it, but I ate it down.

Eating in the midst of the exam was pretty hard. I wasn’t hungry. I wanted to go back and finish. I didn’t want to think about what I should have said. It was too late. I tried not to harp on it, but I figured about 1 points worth of statements I should have made. Despite this, I felt good as I walked out of the test, and continued to feel good as I entered for the 2nd 1\2 of the first day.

Adam and I made more chit chat, theorizing what would be on the next part of the exam. Adam was actually a perfect predictor, but alas, I was not. Unfortunately for me my crown jewel of a subject, property, was rather ignored by New York. Although I was saddened not to have a chance to absolutely blind them with my stellar property knowledge, I feel I did well.

The exam ended. My computer survived, and I was done shortly. Adam’s computer had a technical issue, but it was resolved. We all did well. As I exited BBE was there and smiling. I smiled back, and BBE seemed shocked how happy all of us were. It was not the end of the world.

My only step left? To make it home and upload the test. Simple right? Well yes…it was…eventually. HOWEVER, we did spend a solid hour in the parking garage trying to exit. I have no idea why, but we didn’t move for 45 minutes. It was kind of nuts, but I was mainly just annoyed since I had to use the restroom 20 minutes before the test ended, but had wanted to leave the testing site ASAP so figured I would be back in the hotel about 45 minutes before we were.

That’s it!

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BAR

Studying for the BAR is a beast. They tell you it is like running a marathon, and therefore you cannot hope to go full blast the entire time. It is also a test that is not looking for perfection, rather is looking for competency.

These two items are things I have issues with. As a person with ADHD, I often suffer from pace problems. Therefore, I have spent an extremely long amount of time seated in a space (some days I had good air conditioned quiet space, others….well I’ll get into that later) hunched over a book with a rainbow of highlighters and color coded pens writing and highlighting large tombs (courtesy of my BARBRI tuition) in order to do well on this exam.

I have also been subjected to a number of conversations (I say subjected to as I was not an active participant, rather I was forced to listen to this prior to video lectures) wherein students detailed their study schedule and freaked out that they were unable to grasp whatever concept. It has gotten to the point that when I start to hear these conversations I pop my earphones back in and listen to something/anything to prevent myself from being auditorily violated by others’ insecurity.

Most of all the biggest thing I’ve noticed is how happy a person I am normally. I have never, even during my darkest of days, come home repeatedly hostile and angry as much as I have in the past 2 months. If something, no matter how small, did not go as I wanted to, I feel slighted by the world.

It was this realization that made me remember….the world….owes me nothing. Generally I am a pleasant person, and I have found being pleasant comes with certain advantages (people are generally nice back) and disadvantages (I am harassed by an odd assortment of people). However, I never knew that being mean, or at least perceived as mean, came with a different set of advantages (people generally avoid you and get out of your way) and disadvantages (no one cares if you are in a bad mood). Still….I felt that if I expressed my inner turmoil and frustration, I, who is generally nice, would get a big break from the world.

The world owes no one any favors.

This realization has helped me come back to myself to some degree. I still get angry, but I’ve returned to at least not holding onto my anger any longer than is absolutely necessary. No sooner had I taken up this philosophy than as I walked to study I came across $20.00. I even ran after the woman in front of me to make sure she had not dropped it.

Apparently the world owes no favors, but does tend to give bonuses for those who return to good behavior.

So to all of us who are stressed out….I want to just say…some of the dumbest people have passed the BAR, and while I don’t consider myself a genius, I don’t consider myself incapable of passing this exam. I just recognize to do well, I need to work hard, harder than I want to work, but it is not beyond my ability.

All the above as written sounds good, and it feels good to write, but I will say….today I wanted to murder someone in the New York Public Library, because he was blaring his headphones and when he tapped his foot on the floor I could feel it. After my 5th or 7th “Stop that!” stare of death, I realized it was futile, and returned home to Hoboken to finish my studies. I feel I shall spend the remainder of my studytime in Newark, where I will accomplish a great deal, and want to murder the public transit system for making me wait an hour to take a trip that by car would be 15 minutes.