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“How Hard Could It Be?”

Sunday, June 23, 2013

“How hard could it be?” I said to myself.

“Why is everyone stressing out?” I said to myself.

I told myself, “I have a handle on this. When everyone else is freaking out I will remain the calm voice of reason.”

Um… yes. Bar exam prep is such a strange way of life.

The exam is five three hour sessions over two and a half days. It covers 13 different subjects and includes 200 multiple choice questions, twelve essays, and a performance test. It starts at 9 am on July 30 and ends at noon on August 1. Piece of cake, right?


I made myself a schedule. It’s a pretty schedule, on a spreadsheet with colors and times laid out very carefully to make sure I stay on track and don’t forget anything. It shows one week, and allows for pre-class prep, post-class review, and practice questions. My intent was to follow this schedule from May 28, the first day of class, until July 30, the first day of the bar exam.

The schedule says I am to study in three to four hour increments three times a day. I am to eat three healthy meals and a snack every day, and track it all. I am to sleep a minimum of seven hours, from 11 pm to 6 am every night. I am to swim (or run or bike) four days a week. Any blank spots on the schedule are for downtime. I can watch a movie, or visit with a family member, or play with a dog, or just sit and be. Or I could write a blog.

The schedule is magneted to the fridge. It’s been there since May 28, the first day of class. I haven’t looked at it since May 29.

What are the favorite sayings?
The best laid plans of mice and men…..
The road to hell is paved with good intentions….
Men plan, God laughs….

How’s it going, you ask? For the first two weeks, it went fine. Then the sheer volume of material caught up with me. Now, almost four weeks in, with five weeks to go, I feel like I have never lived anything else, and that nothing else will ever exist.

For the last three days, I have forgotten to eat breakfast.

I can’t seem to remember to brush my teeth.

Every time I go somewhere in the car, I lose it in the parking lot.

I’ve been snapping at my loved ones.

Forget household chores. They are non-existent. Except for bill paying. Because bill collectors don’t care if you’re studying for the bar exam.

My sleep schedule is non-existent. More often than not, one of those three- to four-hour study sessions happens in the middle of the night instead of the middle of the day.

I am munching on whatever is quick and easy and available in the pantry. Thankfully most of it is healthy. Except for the two handfuls of lime flavored Tostitos I ate last night. And the mini candy bars. I have tracked next to nothing.

I have caught myself wearing clothes that fit me four years ago when I was 40 pounds heavier. Surprisingly enough, I have not gained any weight.

The only place I feel any sense of competence is in the pool. I am actually doing better with that than with any other part of my plan. Yet that too is a struggle. I feel guilty taking the time to go, and I’m distracted while I’m there. But I am swimming at least 2000 yards at a shot. Not as much as normal, but it’s something.

Thankfully, this won’t last forever. On August 2, I will wake up and realize I’ve got nothing left to do. Then I can move on with my life. It can’t get here fast enough for me.

But in the meantime, I need to get back to the books.

GOAL: On August 2, I will swim 5000 yards. Maybe I’ll cut myself a break and wait till August 3.

SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO: On August 9, I get on a plane and fly to California for nine days.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Never quite works out exactly the way you plan it, but I'd say that you're doing a whole helluva lot better than I would be, in your shoes. By this stage, I would have put 35 lbs back on and exercise would not even factor in my vocabulary. And nobody within ten feet of me would have a head left. LOL I am laying low and just saying prayers for you each day. I can't even imagine the sense of relief you will feel once this is all behind you! emoticon
    1815 days ago
  • PSMITH3841
    Good Lord, Woman!!!!! When you wake up on Aug 2 you're not going to know what to do with yourself! You'll know that you should be trying to catch up on stuff you haven't been able to do...but it won't feel right...you can start playing the game of "catch up" after you California trip! Where are you going, by the way (if you don't mind me being nosey)? emoticon
    1818 days ago
    Keep studying, Keep calm and Swim on! You can do it and see you in California!
    1820 days ago
    Bleh! Bar life is a crazy time, that's for sure.

    One of the best moments I ever had was exactly 1 year after the Bar, when I realized some of my friends were taking the Bar and I was NOT taking the Bar and I was so happy! It really messes with your head.

    I think at this point, you do the best you can. Great job with the swimming - that definitely helps with stress! Eat when you're hungry and keep healthy food around for snacks. Pre-emptively apologize to your family and assure them that the real you will be back on August 2 but right now you're really self-absorbed and probably (definitely!) irrational. Jason was really happy to get his wife back after the Bar in July 2008.

    You're going to make it. Just keep venting away on your blog! I had a whole community of Bar-taking bloggers that I found online and we descended into insanity together, which helped me feel less alone in the whole endeavor. You can definitely always vent to me.
    1821 days ago
    Wow, it does seem like a lot, but I think you are smart to be flexible and take an hour here or there and get your heart rate up and your breathing deep. Keep at it. As the other have said, this too shall pass and then you'll be a bonafide lawyer!!!!
    1821 days ago
    I feel for you, and I'm sure it isn't funny from where you are sitting, but you definitely made me chuckle. I hope it's over before you know it.
    1821 days ago
    It really is a piece of cake. And you're doing it exactly right. Those were some intense days. Weeks. In retrospect,it seems asinine how worked up we get. Because we'll (you'll) do just fine. But when you're in it, it's impossible to avoid the crazy. Maybe it's part of the process.

    I stayed away from people. I stayed at my parents 'beach house. I recall doing multi-state practice exams on the deck. Over and over. And over. My scores were alarming. But I forced myself to stop and go for a walk on the beach. Walking/swimming, percolation breaks, are so important for bar passage. For life passage.

    You're doing great. California will be here before you know it. In the meantime, enjoy your bar prep. You'll some day look back on it as a very cool time in your life. I promise.
    1821 days ago
    We're glad to be here for your venting. Now, get back to it!
    1821 days ago
    I can't wait for your d@mn test to be over. And not JUST b/c I can't wait to see you!

    Keep swimming. Force yourself to take the time, b/c the endorphins will literally help you elsewhere. Keep pushing. You can do this. Keep b!tching - we're here to listen.

    Love you.
    1821 days ago
    Oh man I feel ya ;) you're nearly there!!! Woohoo for actually swimming its more than I would get done :)

    1821 days ago
    You can do it!
    1821 days ago
    hang in there! it will pass soon . I bet you will sleep for 2 weeks after the exam. at least that used to happen to me. you can dream you're swimming emoticon those plans never work. you're doing fine and your family will be happy to have you back in august. keep studying ! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1821 days ago
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