Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Notes from the Front

Hello, dear readers. I am writing you from my hotel in beautiful Oakland, California to let you know that I am now 2/3 done with the California Bar Exam and have lived to tell the tale (knock on wood!). For fear of being harshly reprimanded by the Committee of Bar Examiners for revealing their heavily guarded bar secrets, I will be cautiously vague and say that so far, the exam has not been overly heinous, but is no walk in the park, either. I think it's the sheer length and intensity of the exam that are wearing on me. All I know is that into hour 4 of today, I kept finding myself contemplating dinner (Chinese food on my bed again?), or hoping that good reality TV would be on later (post-post-Bachelorette session?), or thinking about packing for my trip to Thailand on Saturday (how many maxi-dresses is too many maxi-dresses?) and then I'd snap out of it and reprimand myself for losing focus.

But despite my wandering mind, overall, I think it went pretty well. Anyway, I have one more day to go and then I am freeeeee!

So, enough about the bar. My real objective for this post was to have an excuse to show you the whirlpool that is incredibly situated right next to my BED, which obviously allows for convenient soaking while watching TV, eating, making phone calls, doing your nails, online shopping*, whatever!

Awesome, right? Anyway, time to wrap up, my Chinese food just got here and I need to go eat it in my bed.

*Do not actually attempt online shopping while immersed in water at home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ruh roh!

I am officially losing my study marbles. Today I had to do a three hour "performance test" that involves reading a bunch of fictional law, then applying it to a fictional client's case, and writing that fictional client a letter explaining how the fictional law helps or hurts their case.

While reading, I actually made the following notation in my performance test:

What would lawyer Scooby Doo?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hermione and Harry grow up. Sort of.

It's a time of transition for me and a lot of people I know. We've graduated law school, we're going to start real jobs in a few months, we're studying for the bar and hoping it's the last ridiculous and anxiety-fraught test we'll have to take for a long time, and we're approaching that weird, late-20s period of life where we feel like we should be real adults but we're still living in our parents' basements and dressing up like Hermione Granger for Harry Potter movies. Those last two items might just be me, actually.

Dressing up for Harry Potter movies is a tradition between me and my friend John that dates all the way back to 2007. That summer, as you might recall, John and I were both working in Buenos Aires for human rights NGOs. By July, after being fully immersed in porteño culture (lo bueno y lo malo) for two months, we were both craving a good ol' American nerd-fest involving magic and wizards. So, when the 5th Harry Potter movie came out in Argentina, John and I were all over it. We decided to dress up, to have the fullest, most die-hard Harry Potter experience possible. (Also see

The problem, it turns out, is that there aren't a lot of shops in Buenos Aires catering to a wizarding clientele. I ended up cobbling together a Hermione outfit out of some work clothes, a dingy yellow scarf that I found in a strip mall on my way home from work, and a wand made out of a Hannukah candle that I purchased in an odds-n-ends shop on Avenida Santa Fe. It was the best I could do. John's outfit was similarly slapdash, but we ended up being the best dressed ones at the theater!

In fact, we were the only people dressed up in the entire theater, and possibly in the entire city. Okay, let's be real: we were the only ones in the entire country of Argentina who dressed up as Harry and Hermione for this movie. We also made the helpful choices of drinking a lot of red wine before heading out, and choosing the sketchiest theater in the city for a late-night showing of the film. Let's just say that there were more hostile, rat-tailed youths clad entirely in denim eying us and our magical get-ups than I was comfortable with.

Anyway, this year, John and some other friends and I decided to repeat our Harry Potter experience, minus the angry porteño youths, in San Francisco. I constructed my Hermione outfit entirely from the juniors department at J.C. Penney, and I have to say, it was marvelous. John showed up as a hipster Cedric Diggory, and Jon, another friend, brought Hedwig, so we made quite the trio.

Surprisingly, we were again the only people in the entire, ginormous theater, dressed up. Oh, well, at least there were no local toughs hanging around ready to kick our magical butts this time.

Anyway, John and I may be almost grown-ups now, but we still know how to have fun, no matter how many people stare at us incredulously, which is something I don't see going away with the onset of adulthood. Plus, we still have the next two Harry Potter installments to look forward to, and since John is moving to London for work, we'll have ample opportunity for extra-authentic nerdery.

Thank you, Harry Potter, for being the last bright spot on my pre-bar summer. I'll see you on the flipside, fellow nerds!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Enough already

I'm over the whole bar exam thing. Okay, wait, I was never under it, but now I'm super over it. But you know what I'm even more over? All the bar exam hysteria and ridiculousness that is going on around me, mostly via facebook and twitter. It took me a while to get to this point of being fed up to HERE with everyone's bitching, including my own, but I got here, and this is how it happened.

As you know, my entire summer (since May 18) has been completely consumed by bar studying. Sure, I've had time to have a dinner party, go to Pennsylvania, see a few movies, drink some wine, and walk the dog, but really, there hasn't been a lot of fun going on. I spent 4th of July by myself, in my pajamas, cursing the people who were out rabble-rousing. "Why can't I be out rousing rabble?" I whined. Except there was no one there to hear me, and that made me feel even more pitiful.

Making matters worse was that until yesterday, I hadn't taken a full day off from studying, because our Barbri class has us on a strict schedule of "reviewing," essay writing, and flashcard making. It's quite intense, and I was afraid to veer from it, lest the Barbri gods smite me for eternity. Anyway, up until perhaps yesterday, my attitude about bar studying was one of utter and complete misery. I had never hated studying for anything as much in my life, I was bad at it, I felt destined to fail the bar, and I was jealous of everyone else in the world, even those who live in stinking slums and/or leper colonies, because everyone else seemed to have it easier than me. You can imagine what a joy I was to be around.

And then, something snapped. Don't worry, there was no permanent physical damage. No, it was more of an internal, mental snapping, and it started when I went out to dinner and drinks with one of my friends from college, Bianca. Long story short, we drank an utterly excessive amount of wine and then went to a bar and danced around like eejits on an empty dance floor, while I took frequent breaks to request about 35 songs from the DJ (none of which he had). When I got home from my night out, I was in a fantastic mood; I felt free as a bird and didn't give a CRAP about bar studying. Part of that was probably attributable to the drunkenness. But still.

The next day, I woke up to what can only be described as a monstrous hangover: the kind of hangover where it hurts to lift your head up off the pillow, and the world seems dizzy and quaky and gray. Oh, it was awful. But you know what? I was still in a great mood, because somehow, my night of getting blitzed with my friend had given me some important perspective on this whole bar thing. I decided to take the day off from studying, since my hangover was so oppressively bad I couldn't focus on anything more complicated than putting on pants (and even that was a struggle). Instead, I went for a walk with my mom around Golden Gate Park, baked banana bread with my dad, watched Real Housewives of New Jersey, and read a non-law-related book. Heaven!

That one day off gave me a fresh lease on bar studying. I realized that there are 18 days until the bar exam, which isn't too bad, really, and that all I need to do for the next 18 days is study, but not punish myself, and keep on top of my assignments and I'll be fine. I'm not going to fail (knock on wood), and I'm not going to hate my life in the interim, either.

So, I took a six-hour practice test today, and as soon as I was done, went on facebook to see what the world was up to in my absence. I'd say about 80% of my friends who just graduated law school had facebook statuses that involved bitching about how much Barbri sucks, how far behind they are with studying, how much they HATE studying, how they are giving up partying for the next two weeks "FOR REAL," etc. Okay, I get it. I do. I mean, just two blog posts ago, I too was bitching about Barbri as much as the next girl. But you know what? We have less than three weeks to go, and in the great scheme of things, studying for the bar is not the worst thing you could be forced to do. As Kenneth Parcell once wisely said, "My mother always told me that, even when things seem bad, there's someone else who's having a worse day. Like being stung by a bee, or getting a splinter, or being chained to a wall in someone's sex dungeon."

So true, Kenneth. So true.

Whether you're studying for the bar or just living life, you should appreciate the fact that you're not in someone's basement being forced to put lotion on your skin. Just take a deep breath. Everything will be FINE.

Also, I reserve the right to take all of this back if I fail the bar. But let's cross that bridge when we come to it.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The name game

Names are interesting to me. If you've read my past posts about trendy baby names* (see, you might have guessed that I think one's name is important, interesting, and often painful and/or hilarious. Consequently, the opportunity to give someone else a name is a task that should be taken very seriously, whether you're naming your new goldfish or your firstborn child.

My own forays into naming started with my stuffed animals. Among my naming triumphs were Aunt Scissors (a bear), Drool (a camel), and Chad (a boy baby doll). Then, I ventured into real pet naming: Muffin (a kitten), Fred and Ted (fish), and Towser Ivy (a dachshund). A lot of deliberation went into all of these names, especially Towser.*

Naming a dog is a big deal for a seven year old, of course, but it doesn't compare to naming a child, because dogs won't ever get teased by other dogs at dog school. I really think that's the main factor that parents ought to consider while naming their child: what horrible, twisted permutations of this name will the kids at my child's elementary school come up with to make my child's daily life miserable? Fatima may seem like a beautiful name now, but give it six years, ya know?

Although, I'm not totally convinced that all the name-related taunting that goes on in school is really such a bad thing. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? I mean, Tim Allen's original name was Tim Dick, and look how well he turned out!

I do believe, though, that naming your daughter Dorcas or your son Gailord will force her or him to be a stronger person in the face of adversity. It's like training for a marathon in Mexico City: the smog and the elevation and the floating smell of poop will make running the Boston Marathon so much easier in comparison, right? Same thing with naming your kid Ebenezer. If he can get through those 12 years of school without becoming a high risk runaway and/or seeking emancipation, he's good for life. Right??

Now, I am pretty sure I won't actually do this, but I've always been tempted to give my future children first names (or at least middle names) that I personally like, but that are objectively awful. I happen to like a lot of names that I suspect people would regard as "unconventional" (meaning: ugly). When I was a kid, for instance, I was convinced beyond a doubt that I would name my daughter either Merle or Eilish. EILISH. The taunts practically write themselves: it wouldn't even take a creative bully to realize that my child's name sounds only slightly different from a piece of hair designed to keep debris out of one's cornea. I liked the name, though: it's Irish, it's delicate, it starts with an E. And, confession time: I still like that name.

Don't worry, future kid, I won't actually name you Eilish. But Merle's still on the table.

I'm not advocating giving your kid some ridiculous name like Orangejello or Lemonjello (actual brothers) just to test the kid's acumen, but I'm just saying: every kid is gonna get teased, so you might as well toughen them up early. I think my mom was thinking along these lines when she suggested to my dad before my birth that they name me Petra Sanchez, after her great grandmother. Just to clarify, Petra Sanchez would be my first and middle name, to go with our decidedly un-Mexican last name. God help us all.

* I had also toyed with the name Bowser, but Towser seemed a bit edgier