Thursday, July 28, 2011

Celebrated on The Water

It was a long day. The exam is (and I know all exam takers of exams everywhere say this but) extremely hard. In fact, in the history of the Multistate Bar Exam (created in 1988), no one has ever achieved a perfect score. That includes people who teach the bar exam professionally, and have taken it over and over again. NO ONE has ever scored a perfect 200/200 (the highest score I know of was a 189). The exam is designed to be super hard. The answers are often all right, but one is more right. Sometimes the answers given are so close that the bar examiners end up having to credit two choices.

It is difficult to maintain the required focus when each question requires your COMPLETE ATTENTION for 200 questions over 6 hours. Of course, some are easier and some are harder. Lots of them require you to know (and apply ruthlessly, relentlessly) rules of prevailing common law (which sometimes contradict the law you have carefully learned for your the contrasting concepts of comparative negligence--majority view--and contributory negligence--minority view but used in my state, so I had to learn it for the essay portion anyhow) and statute that the majority uses (like Article 2 of the UCC, which covers the sale of goods). The fact patterns are designed to be confusing and often, to tug on the emotions of the test-takers. Sometimes the questions force you to give the reason one party wins when you know very well that there is no way that party would win in the real world. Sometimes the facts make you want very much to select the fair answer but of course the fair answer is wrong.

When I emerged from the test this afternoon I was extremely happy to see my son, who walked me to where my dear Captain Obvious was sitting under a tree, on the phone of course. I then sat in his lap (while he was writing work email on his phone, so supportive, ha) and cried for a for a few minutes.

Anyhow, I won't know my result for months.

For the rest few days post-bar prep period I plan to do a whole bunch of nothing. Just spend time with my beloved captains. Tonight we went sailing and that was lovely.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One Half (or Two Thirds) Done

Day one of the exam is over.

I woke up at 5:00 this morning (the alarm was set for 6:56) and I could not go back to sleep, despite lying quietly with my eyes closed in the dark for an hour.

Wrote the essay portion of the exam all day today. Going back tomorrow for another 6 hours of testing; this time it will be death by machine gun (aka multiple choice).

You might think I am halfway done, but if you think about it another way I am two thirds done because the essay is 400 of the 600 available points (so therefore I have completed 2/3 of the exam).

In case you were wondering, one needs a grade of 406/600 to pass.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Last Push

My beloved captains left this afternoon and won't be back till tomorrow evening to give me One Last Undisturbed Study Push. I studied from 10 am till 8 pm today, with approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes in breaks. I decided to stop because my brain is tired and I do not want to completly exhaust myself today since I have tomorrow to study undisturbed as well.

Blood, sweat, and tears have gone into these preparations (and not just mine): I have suffered paper cuts, ink stains on my fingers, and have sweated over a hot laptop with a hot desk lamp for hours and hours. (As Captain Obvious says, with a big fake-sad face, "Oh, the injuries of lawyers.") On a more serious note, I have cried from frustration and exhaustion. I have written and studied almost a thousand flash cards. I've attended weeks worth of classes, written dozens of practice state-law specific essays, written hours of practice practical tests (MPTs), and answered hundreds of multiple choice questions (MBEs). And of course I've spent hours debriefing them all.

I have asked for a lot and received even more support from so many people in my life. My darling brave boy has had a tough summer, going 10 weeks with little-to-no mama, much to his sorrow (last night at dinner he was resting his head on my lap, telling me he had never wanted me to study so much). My super supportive husband has listened to interminable lectures on law as I learn it and complaints about the demands of the exams. My parents hosted and cared for my child for 2 weeks (though I am pretty sure they were happy to undertake that task) and of course supported me. My dear friends have obliged me with opportunity for periodic much-needed non-study, non-exam-related interaction and have helped me by taking care of my little guy now and then.

Tomorrow is Saturday. I will completely immerse myself in study from the time I get up till my captains come home. My bar prep course recommends that I take Sunday completely off and limit myself to three hours of study on Monday (that will be hard). I sit for the exam on Tuesday and Wednesday. I have been working hard for weeks to prepare for this exam. I have poured time and effort into this. Of course there is always the worry that my performance, despite all my preparations, will not measure up. But I often feel confident, too. My plan is to pass this time! Goodness knows I'm working as hard as I can to achieve that...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cancer Is Always With Me

I recently had a conversation with my oncologist in which she confirmed that, for many excellent reasons, I will never have another pregnancy. In fact, it would be a bad idea to even try. She seemed surprised that I am still cycling as chemo often brings on early menopause. She also said that although so little is known about my cancer, there is a high chance for reoccurance but they have no way of predicting what my chances are. So, I was reading about CUP online the other night, trying to see if there was any new information out there and I found this article (from NCI) that freaked me out a little. The pertinent paragraph was this one:
The prognosis for patients with CUP is poor. As a group, the median survival is approximately 3 to 4 months with less than 25% and 10% of patients alive at 1 and 5 years, respectively. CUP is represented by a heterogeneous group of diseases all of which have presented with metastasis as the primary manifestation. Although the majority of diseases are relatively refractory to systemic treatments, certain clinical presentations of CUP carry a much better prognosis. In each instance, distinct clinical and pathologic details require consideration for appropriate, potentially curative, management.
It has been almost 4 years since my initial diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. I am alive. Why? I am really happy and really lucky to be alive. Wow, I have such a small chance of being here now and yet, here I am. I guess I am in that weird class of "certain clinical presentations" which "carry a much better prognosis" ...or???? Every moment is precious. 

On another, but related note, this summer is different than any other summer I've shared with you so far because I am very busy...busy doing what, you ask...well, I guess, reluctantly, I will tell.

I am studying to take the Bar Exam. Yes, my second shot. Last time I did this was the summer of 2007. My son was a little baby and I was (unbeknowst to me at the time) full of cancer. Here I am now, with a 4 year old boy and in remission (till the next CT scan, anyway). A very different experience.

Studying for the bar is all-consuming. I dream about it every night. Sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about The Exam or The Character Interview or Whatever. I am always studying or attending class or doing a practice test. I never feel like it is enough. Some days I am convinced I will pass and some days I know I will fail. StressFul.

I didn't want to tell you about it because I wanted to avoid potential shame resulting from not passing and having to tell you that I failed, again, only with no good excuse this time. However, the reason I am sharing now is because something really ironic happened on Thursday and I thought you blog readers would appreciate it in a way others who don't know my whole story would not.

I received two letters. One was from the State Board of Law Examiners--it was my seat assignment. A big, fat envelope full of official papers and instructions. The other was from JHH; it was a thin envelope, containing one sheet of paper, confirming my next CT scan appointment. It feels a little like the last time I studied for the exam--the fear of the exam, the fear of the doctor's appointment. Impending doom. Or does it? This summer I am so much better prepared for the exam and I feel so much more confident about my health.

But there are echos from that summer 4 years ago. I feel buoyant--bobbing up, dropping down, bobbing up...well you get the idea (always hopeful and always prepared to bob back up). :) Mostly I try to keep uppermost in my mind how beautiful the world is and how I love my captains, my family, and my friends. (Sometimes I sink down a bit, though, and then I just bob back up with the next wave.)

I sit for the Bar Exam on July 26 and 27. The CT scan is August 19. God help me with both!

OK, gotta go study. Bye for now.