Monday, August 3, 2009

"What's next?"

Everyone has been asking me about the bar, if I've passed, what I'm going to do now with my life. Here's a general update:

Have you ever been to a racetrack before? (I swear, there is a point to this sudden jump.) Have you ever watched the movie "Seabiscuit"? Have you ever noticed the funny eyewear that racehorses wear? Racehorses wear blinders, which are also known as blinkers or winkers. According to wikipedia, blinders are pieces of horse tack that restrict the horse's vision to the rear and to the side. Many racehorse trainers believe this keeps the horse focused on what is in front of him, encouraging him to pay attention to the race rather than other distractions.

Anyway, that's what studying for the bar and taking the three day exam felt like for me. I felt like a racehorse wearing blinders. I zoned out the rest of the world. I didn't know or care about what was going on outside of Barbri. I counted my days according to which subject I was studying, not which day of the week. Mondays were no longer Mondays; they became "Constitutional Law practice set 2 and 3 + California Evidence practice essays." I didn't dare go to a coffeeshop to study, because I didn't want any distractions. I memorized 15 subjects, to the point where one word could trigger 30 pages.

I was pretty calm throughout the whole process. About a week before the bar, subjects suddenly fell into place. All the subjects connected. It was a very cool, numbing feeling, like mental menthol.

The actual bar itself was held at the San Diego Convention Center. Picture a thousand students lined up in perfect rows, with a gray-haired proctor watching each row. Each student was assigned a seat and a number. I expected to see some meltdowns but there weren't any. Apparently, there were a lot of people who didn't show up and one guy behind me who left after the first hour and didn't come back, but I didn't pay attention to anyone but myself.

Barbri prepared us well. Of course, I don't know much about the other bar exam preparation courses out there. I know that Barbri is probably the most expensive, but I think it's worth it. The bar presented some surprises, but for the most part, I did what I was programmed to do. By this time, I was used to sitting for 6 hours at a time without getting up, so sitting for three hours really wasn't so bad at all. They melted away quickly.

I don't get the results until November 20, so until then, I'm focused on starting this new chapter of my life. I'm excited and happy and nervous to see what happens!

I start a part-time job at a nonprofit elder law organization in a few weeks. The job is temporary and will hold me over for a few months until I find something more permanent. The attorneys, staff, and clients there are truly wonderful people and I can't wait to return.

In the meantime, I plan on watching hours of mindless television, cooking a lot, painting, going to a Padres game, snorkeling in La Jolla cove, hiking in Torrey Pines, attending my grandma's 90th (!) birthday, and having lots of mini-adventures.

Although I'd love to travel, I decided to hold off until I'm in a more financially secure situation. Since a bar trip was out of the question for me, I decided to do some armchair traveling instead. I've been working through J. Maarten Troost's trio of books. Currently, I'm on his third book, "Lost on Planet China." There are a lot of laugh-out-loud parts.

This weekend, I watched three movies: "Tulpan," "Irina Palm," and "Mister Lonely." I highly recommend all three. "Tulpan" reminded me of what it felt like to be on the Mongolian steppes (although it is set in Kazakhstan).

I'm also embarking on my "Chinese Project." I've been meaning to brush up on my Chinese for a long time. I hate to admit it, but my parents were right. I should have paid attention in Chinese school when I was growing up, instead of using my Friday nights to gossip with friends. I know approximately 100 words right now. There are about 20,000 Chinese characters. I need to know about 7,000 to understand educated Chinese. If I learn two words a day, that's 730 words a year. If I keep that up, in less than 10 years, I will reach my goal (and maybe I will have paid off most of my growing student debt as well). I'm going to start with the important words: the food words. Right now, I can pick out words like "chicken" and "green" but I can barely order from a menu. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I will be able to read out of a Chinese cookbook!

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