Monday, July 12, 2010

The California Bar Exam, Part 4

The morning of the bar you could feel the heaviness in the hotel. I peeked outside my door and saw one of the test takers doing stretches in front of his room. WHO CAN STRETCH AT A TIME LIKE THIS?

Having no idea what rush hour traffic was like in San Mateo, I gathered up my permitted items and headed off to the San Mateo Convention Center. They had us waiting outside, which was just fine. I absolutely adore the California morning marine layer. It was perfectly cool, I was wearing my favorite Tevas, my favorite jeans, and my law school sweatshirt. Someone from my law school stopped to say hi, but I actually didn't recognize him.

At that point, thanks in part to the delicious marine layer, I was fairly calm. At that point, there was nothing more I could learn. And by lunch time, my husband would have the report from the pediatric neurosurgeon about my son's skull.

When they opened the door, there were tables upon tables upon tables and lawn chairs set up at the tables in what looked to be more like an airplane hanger than a convention center. I happened to be seated in the very last row - right by the bathrooms. That's key right there when every second counts.

Some people were chatting to their friends. Most people were just sitting in silence.

After much delay, the proctor read every damn instruction in very slow monotone. "Take . . . your. . . number . . . 2 . . . pencil . . . and . . . gently . . . rip. . . apart. . . your. . . answer . . . book . . . being. . . careful. . . not. . . to. . . make. . . any. . . stray. . . marks. . .) I'm not even kidding. Everybody had the books open by the time she reached "take your."

Finally, we were off. The first topic was one of my strong ones and I spit forth all my key words in the allotted time and even managed to make a good strong essay along the way, just in case anybody ended up reading it. The second topic - THREW ME FOR A HUGE LOOP. It was all about a condo. A condo? Barbri had not covered condos. And in real life, I had just never had an opportunity or need to know what a condo really was. Do you own a condo? Do you rent a condo? It wasn't clear from the facts. Was this a landlord/tenant question? A property purchase question? I had no idea. I knew, time wise, I just had to pick. So I decided it was a property purchase question and moved on.

And then it was lunch - the cellphones we had mail ordered hadn't come in and I hadn't seen a pay phone anywhere along the road, so I had to rush back to the hotel to call my then-husband about our son's meeting with the pediatric neurosurgeon. Every red light felt like it was 5 minutes. There was so much traffic. When I finally made it to the room and got my husband on the phone, I didn't even say hello - it was just, "How is he?"

"He told us to go home."
"The doctor looked him over for about 5 minutes, determined there was nothing wrong with his skull, and told us to go home."
"Oh my god oh my god. Oh. My. God."

And that's how the first day of the California bar exam came to be one of the best days of my life. I was downright giddy during the afternoon session.

The next day was the multistate. You hear it over and over and over again but the key here is to not fall behind timewise. I kept to a certain number of questions every 15 minutes and finished with enough time to go back over a few. And you hear this again and again too - don't go back and second guess yourself. So I went back and second guessed myself. I changed a few of my answers. Then I decided to cut my odds by not changing some of the other answers that I was seconding guessing.

The final day I was comfortable with all the topics and sailed threw it and I was so very very ready to be done. But the monotone proctor lady still had instructions for us at the end - "place . . . your . . . exam . . .." OH MY GOD LADY YOU ARE THE ONLY THING STANDING BETWEEN ME AND MY VERY VERY STRONG COCKTAIL.

Once set free by the slowest talking proctor lady ever, I spotted a TGI Fridays. They have bars in those - the drinking kind. I grabbed my credit card out of my regulation bar item baggie and ran in. The waitress asked me if I had just come from the bar (Goodness doesn't anything else happen in this town?) and I said yes and then she carded me. I asked her if she was serious, and she was. Which required me to go back out to my car and get my ID. Finally, I got my cocktail. It was just okay and I didn't even finish it because I realized that all I really wanted was bed.

53% passed the California bar that summer.

Tuesday - Epilogue.



    I think I am going to start yelling that in at slow people in the grocery store!

  2. Wow! GLad the result was a good one! I love people's stories.