I have lost it. I need to get it back. I’m not sure where it went. Well, maybe I am, but I don’t want to admit it to myself. Time for some self-analysis.
Have I said how much I hate self-analysis? All of my blogs are about self-analysis. That’s why I don’t blog all that often. I don’t like kicking myself in the ass, although sometimes it’s what I need.
Well, for starters, I’m graduating from law school in 70 days. That’s right, on May 19, 2013, I will be walking across a stage in silly-looking graduation regalia, shaking the hand of the dean, and accepting a rolled up piece of paper in lieu of a diploma that will come later in the mail. (They better spell my name right.) I will forever leave law school classes behind and enter the big bad world of bar review.
Fast forward another 72 days. After another round of intensive study, at 9:00 am on July 30, 2013, along with 1200 – 1500 other shell-shocked law school graduates, I’ll be sitting down for the first of five half-day sessions of the most grueling exam most of us have ever faced – will ever face – in our lives. At 1:00 pm on Thursday, August 1, 2013, I will enter my car and begin a two hour drive home that I will probably never remember. And then I will be done.
Done with a program at which I have been working full tilt since August 2009. Three and a half years of non-stop study, exam taking, work, and putting off family and self-obligations. This program was incredibly hard work, requiring the ultimate focus to keep up with, and was a true test of my time management skills. And I did it. Juggled it all, and performed at least fairly well on all of it. Managed to pass all my classes, if not with stellar grades, at least with average ones. Managed to hold down several different jobs, impress my employers, and gain lots of real world experience. Managed to maintain my household, with lots of help from my family. Managed to maintain my relationships with my family, no small part of which came from their infinite patience with me. Managed to maintain a workout schedule, even though it didn’t help me maintain my weight.
I kept this up for three and a half years. One can only keep up that kind of pace for so long. And with only 142 days left until the bar exam, I have completely lost focus. So close, with the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s gone. I suppose it’s normal. Burnout. Senioritis. Call it whatever you want, it’s the natural feeling one gets when one is so close to the goal but not quite there yet, and getting there still requires one last, big push. But many others have done it before me, and many more will come after. If they can do it, so can I. I must, because giving up is not an option.
I need to work on four areas of focus.
This area is actually the easiest. I am swimming. A lot. At least twice a week, more often three times. I love swimming and it is the form of workout that makes me feel in the best physical shape and the most competent. I need to feel competent right now.
Now that the days will start getting longer and the sun is out again and there’s more light, I am adding running/walking back into my workout schedule. I have also taken up yoga, which I still don’t know much about, but I am enjoying. I may figure out how to add biking back in too, but honestly, there’s no good places to ride around me. It’s either ride on the street, which can be dangerous, or ride on the bike trails, which are too crowded. So it’s last on the priority list. My goals are to swim 120 minutes, walk/run 80 minutes, and do yoga 40 minutes every week. So far, I’ve managed to keep that up and since I’m used to it, I should be able to maintain this schedule going into bar study.
This area is a little harder. I gained back 20 pounds of the 50 I lost. I got careless and stopped paying attention. And it’s been pure hell getting it back off. I changed my goal weight to a bit higher than it was originally, but even so, that last 10-12 pounds are proving themselves pretty stubborn. I’m sticking to my normal low-carb diet, eating mostly lean meats, poultry, fish and eggs, very little grain and dairy, and getting most of my carbs from fruit and veggies. It works, if I pay attention. And that’s the issue – paying attention. With all the other distractions, it’s very easy to let the many temptations in my path get the better of me. I have to track everything, or I’ll be deluding myself into thinking I’m doing fine when I’m really not.
I’m not. I’ve gotten really lazy. Of course, it doesn’t help that I only have one class that requires no advance preparation. It will have a take home exam that I’ll have ten days to finish and submit. I am also interning at Juvenile Court, getting to know people, and doing research and writing projects. This internship is not graded, so all I have to do is show up for the required number of hours and do a good job, and I’ll get credit. I’ve already surpassed the hours requirement, even with six weeks left of classes, and I’ve already been told I’m doing a good job. I really like it down there, the people are great, the subject matter is infinitely interesting, and I love the Judge. But aside from the time I actually spend at the courthouse, do you see any motivation there to study? I sure don’t.
Once bar review starts, I will be on a completely different schedule. The course I’m taking has a pretty strictly laid out plan of classes, pre-class prep, post-class review, and independent study. It’s available now, and I already have my books, but I have deliberately not looked at any of it yet. It starts around June 1, so after graduation on May 19, I’ll have 10 days or so to start looking it over and putting a schedule down on paper. That will include everything I need to do for the next two months, including sleeping, eating, working out and downtime. Yes, it’s that intense.
Finding a job
I am not working right now, having been laid off at the end of November. I have been sending out resumes, with mixed results. I have had a couple of interviews, but no job offers. I have mixed feelings about finding a job at this moment. It has been recommended – by MANY people whose opinions I respect – that it is best not to work while studying for the bar exam because it’s so intense. I have always worked, since I was 14 years old. I haven’t been without a job since my second child was born in 1989. And now I’m unemployed and living on a student loan and my tax refund, along with a paltry weekly unemployment check. That is scary. So much so that I deliberately don’t think about it, or I will fly into full-blown panic.
The Judge at Juvenile Court is known for hiring people she knows and likes, and I am hoping that I impress her enough to offer me a job after graduation, since I would love to work down there. It would be a dream job. So far so good; she has told me she likes my work, and she’s giving me more responsibility. It will be a question of whether or not she actually has a job to offer, or if she likes someone else better. If she can’t offer me a job, at least I can hope to get some priority on the appointment list.
Barring that, I just don’t know. I have enough business experience to hang out my own shingle. But there is SO MUCH competition. And the news is full of stories about law graduates who can’t find work. It will be a matter of being in the right location, practicing in the right legal field, and marketing in the right way. I don’t know which scares me more, the present condition of having no income versus the future condition of not knowing where the income will come from. Maybe both.
So, how am I going to get my focus back for the next 70 days? The 72 days after that leading to the bar exam are a different kind of focus and a different blog. So let’s make this simple.
Fitness: Stick to the plan. Swim twice, run/walk twice, yoga twice a week. More if it fits. Without fail. And track it all.
Nutrition: Stick to the plan. Eat meat. Eat eggs. Eat poultry. Eat fish. Eat veggies. Eat fruit. Don’t eat dairy. Drink water. Eat as little grain as possible. Track everything.
Study: Go to class. Outline over spring break. Go to the courthouse. Ask the Judge for more work. Impress her.
Job hunting: Keep sending out two or three resumes a week. Don’t worry about it if no calls come in. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.
Simplicity is my friend.
How's that for simplicity?