Wednesday, June 23, 2010

MBE Preview: They're Ba-ack!

Ok, I'm about 3 weeks into my substantive review. I have notes for blog posts about all the lecturers written. They will be posted. They may not be in the most edited format, but they will be posted. I am still deciding if I want to wait to post until the lecturer has done all of his or her subjects. I probably will be that lazy. So, stay tuned, I will organize and post. I will also take this time to rant about the fact that I am about 3 weeks into my substantive review, and I am yet to have a female lecturer. Um, what? Are the women-folk not good enough to tell stale jokes and throw out lame neumonics about a subject for three and a half hours? Screw you, Illinois. Grr...

And, without further ado, I give you: MBE Preview: Con Law and Evidence.

Con Law. Great. Crazy Torts Lady is Back.

She still has volume moderation problems. "Let's talk about the commerce clause. This is important. At my law school, we split up Con Law into ConLaw I and ConLaw II." Um, what? How is that important?

On The Marriage Ref: "I think it has Matthew Broderick." Or--JERRY SEINFELD? Please, I haven't even seen this stupid sow and I know that Matthew Broderick is nont involved. I get that she's trying to relate to current events, but she loses points for being wrong and loses extra points for sullying the good name of an 80's icon (Inspector Gadget notwithstanding). I judge her for that comment almost as much as I judged her for whining about memorizing the multiplication tables. Bottom line: according to her, ConLaw is going to be the easiest MBE subject. Which is a damn good thing, because I got zilch out of that lecture.

Oh, my crim law buddy is back! I like him because he gives an overview of how many questions will likely be tested and some general tips up front.
On character evidence: "Oh yeah, he's violent. But he's incredibly honest! He is honest in his violence!"
Ok, his "MIMIC" voice is a bit much for me, but oh well. He does a nice, simple review.
On the most ridiculous M.O. ever conceived by the national board of bar examiners: "I'll admit, this guy took it too far. I've got some personal experience, and the duck call really attracts the ladies." I actually laughed out loud at this. I know I'mwatching a video, but I just got an image of this nerdy guy yanking out a duck call and playing it seductively. I need a moment again.
His Lost tie-in was far superior to The Marriage Ref. Not because it was more on point. But because he had his facts straight and because Lost is so far superior to The Marriage Ref that it's not even far to mention to two in the same blog post. Bottom line: nice review. I won't be seeing you anymore buddy, so, fare thee well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Taking an idea from Amie, who got it from Laura, this one is about my grandmother.
Unlike Laura, I knew my grandmother very well when she was still alive. She and my grandfather took my mother, sister, and I in after my father left. My mom had to work when we were young (still does, actually), so my grandparents helped raise D and I. My grandma was the one who picked us up from school and embarassed us by doing it in her hair rollers. She was the one who made us dinner before dance class and broke up our arguments.

She died two weeks before Christmas when I was 15. It's a sad story, and one that I won't get into here. But the point is, I knew my grandma. Very well. But she didn't live to see me graduate from high school, much less law school. Theoretically, I have no idea how she would have felt about my becoming a lawyer.

Laura and Amie, according to their blog posts, had very conservative German Lutheran Grandmothers. And, here's where we differ. My Grandma was neither German nor Lutheran. Grandma wasn't born in Italy, but she was younger than most of her sibling (she was one of ten). Also, inexplicably, their family was Protestant---which denomination, I'm not sure, but she never went to church anyway, so I don't think it matters. She did convert to Catholocism after my Grandfather passed away, just in case, though Lord knows she found the entire religion bewildering. Whenever she came to mass with us (my Grandpa's family was the more typical Catholic Italian variety). She was bemused by the constant standing and kneeling, "What is this? An aerobics class?" she'd grumble. She soberly informed me that all priests are alcoholics (all that communion wine) and, thank to her vivid mental picutres about what I could catch from sharing the wine cup, I haven not taken communion wine, ever. Ever. In over 15 years. No wine. Me. Passing up free booze. That's power.

She was a powerful woman. Not in the conventional sense that you'd think of. She wasn't leading the charge into the workforce, busting the glass ceiling with a red powersuit and a briefcase. But she was ahead of her time. She was a stay-at-home mom who cooked and cleaned and raised the kids, but for anyone who met her and my mild-mannered grandpa, there was no doubt who really called the shots. She was a fiesty, outspoken little fireball who encouraged our independence, ruled her roost, and yelled at telemarketers, annoying neighbors, and any kids who messed with her grandkids.

Meeting her would probably explain a lot about me. We have similar sense of humor, thought it must be admitted she probably didn't joke about sex as much or say "fuck" quite as much as I do. And, her political views were not fiercely conservative (a note about my family: political views take sides rather than generations; my father's family= conservative, mother's family=liberal. I bet you can all guess what side I take after) . She always (probably facetiously) said that she voted for whoever was best looking. For eight years, that meant Bill Clinton.

She was not afraid or disapproving of strong women and she never expected us to shrink into the woodwork. In a lot of ways, I wasn't a typical little girl. A lot of little girls want to be nurses, teachers, or ballerinas. I wanted to be a lawyer. Early on, I was more comfortable with adults than I was with most kids my own age. As anyone who knew me can attest, I was a strange kid. She got me, her special little snowflake, and was unfailingly supportive. Though we never expressly discussed whether she was proud of my chosen career path, I knew she was always proud of my academic aptitude and ambition. Every time I (or any of the other kids) had some little success at school, she'd talk about it to anyone who would sit still long enough to listen--usually family members having coffee and cake on Sunday mornings.

The idea thatI was going into a "man's field" didn't seem to have occurred to her; or, if it did, it certainly didn't faze her. She was so proud of her granddaughter who was smarter than a lot of the boys she competed against. She loved her family, but I get the impression that if she'd been born 40 or 50 years later, things may have been different. I can only imagine her raising hell in a "man's world."

Grandma died before I got my driver's license. She did not see me graduate from high school. She didn't see me graduate from college. She didn't get to see me graduate from law school. But I don't have to wonder. She would be proud of me. So proud of her special, weird, little snowflake. She would be full-to-bursting with pride, smug-as-hell, driving her brother and sister nuts over coffee proud.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How to Deal

I always thought I'd hit the height of meanness, hatefulness, and deadness in the eyes some time in the middle of my third year of law school.
And then I yelled at my mother for suggesting I bring home a piece of paper.
In my defense, I started the conversation by telling her how overwhelmed I was and her idea of being helpful was to remind me of all of these other things I should be doing and telling me to do things I had already done (looking up the address on the piece of paper being one of them).
I swear, my poor mother probably thinks I have a brain tumor. Before law school, I had a pretty long fuse. Once I hit my limit, of course, I was, to use a friend's phrase, "fucking terrifying," but those moments were pretty few and far between.
And then I went to law school. And the weirdest stuff started to set me off. I'd be on the phone with my mother, yelling at the person driving the Honda minivan in front of me with the "Thank your mother for not choosing abortion" bumper sticker (I wish her mother had), who was driving too slowly through the roundabout and I just knew she was wondering what the hell happened to her calm, rational daughter.
I'll tell you. She went to law school. And we thought that was bad. And then, she started studying for the bar.
I'll refer you all to the excellent post by my dear friend Amie Kus Curie, giving excellent suggestions for how to deal when someone you know is taking the bar. As I am actually studying for the bar right now, I lack the energy to do it as well as she does. But, I'll give you the short version in case you're feeling lazy. The following is a list of Do's and Don'ts.

DON'T say "You'll be fine. You're smart." Yeah, I am smart. Smart people fail this test every year. There are "pass" rates for every law school in this country. Ever heard of a little school called Harvard? Their passage rate for the 2007 New York bar was 97%. Which is damn impressive. Guess what? It means that 3% of the Harvard grads who took the New York Bar Exam failed it. HARVARD GRADS. Understand why "you're smart," doesn't mean shit?

DO steer clear of your little BarBri drone if possible. Unless they are calling you. If you don't pick up your phone when they know you are just sitting around having a beer after work, it may just push them over the edge. They are only calling to talk and maybe blow off a little steam.

DON'T get all butthurt when your BarBri prisoner can't come to your birthday party/movie marathon/grocery shopping trip. Trust me, we'd all rather be watching you open an envelope than watching a man who resembles Vizzini from The Princess Bride on PCP scream about Federal Jurisdiction. Enjoy the fact that you have a life. Please let us study products liability without the additional guilt of missing out on the inagural run of your Popcorn maker.

DO try to laugh at their stupid bar-related jokes or impressions of the BarBri lecturers. It's all we've got. Please don't take it away from us.

DON'T ask when we'll find out if we passed. Imagine you were waiting for the results of a test that would tell you if the strange mass on your liver was made of cancer or gold bullion. Now imagine everyone you know asking you when you'd find out the results every time they see you.

DO take your soul-less Bar zombie up on their infrequent offers to relax for a little while. Take them to dinner. Or for coffee. Ok, maybe not coffee, maybe ice cream.

DON'T compare trying to pick paint colors for your guest bedroom or trying to find the best price on a part for your car or a nastily worded memo from your H.R. department to studying for the bar. I know that those things can be stressful. You get no sympathy from someone who spent three years and $150 grand on an education that simply did not prepare them to take the exam that will determine whether they can actually use their degree.

DO be flexible. Please.

DON'T say "It's just a test." Please. Just. Don't. We might pass the bar. But then we'll probably have a hard time passing Character and Fitness due to the brutal murder we've just committed.

DO keep that skin thick and be prepared for anything. Hang in there, this too will pass.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bar Review: MBE Preview Day 1: Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut


It's started. I officially have to start studying for the bar. Well, sort of. MBE Preview is pretty tame so far. No assignments, no reading; we just take a multiple choice quiz in the morning followed by a mini-lecture analyzing the questions. We take a lunch break and then repeat. I'm sure it's a trap, designed to lull us into a false sense of security. Many people tell me I'm paranoid. This isn't paranoia. This is experience. Three years of law school taught me this: if something seems easy, you're about to get jacked in the face by the brass knuckles of law school. When people tell me I am overly suspicious, I refer them to this short story: Once, while battling a sore throat and upper-respiratory illness, Dan recommended his mother's home remedy: a shot of vodka chased by a tablespoon of honey (I make absolutely no judgments about Mama Dan's parenting. But I bet her kids slept well). When I hesitated, and asked if he was sure he wasn't just recommending this to see what would happen if I actually did it, he responded: "You're very suspicious." I replied "I'm suspicious because I'm about to take a vodka shot with a honey back." Sometimes, suspicion is warranted. That's your better judgment helping you out and telling you to pay attention.

But, back to MBE Preview. I'll try to make these brief. Because lord knows the lecturers are not troubling themselves to do so. Our first subject is Torts, with lecturer Lisa McElroy (hereinafter Crazy Torts Lady). The first thing I notice is her sever volume control issues. Also, her plugs about how BarBri is the greatest thing since sliced bread and how if we follow the Paced Program, not only will we pass the bar, but we'll win a castle and a pony and win the Nobel Prize and have bluebirds sing to us in our baths. For the sake of expediency (and a troubling glimpse into my mind), I will reproduce the notes I made:

Torts with Crazy Torts Lady

Ok, enough about how BarBri is the bestest bar prep in the world. Give me the goddamn answer. Hey! I got this one right. It took me a while to even figure out what question she was talking about. (Some comment she made about law students being compulsive). Compulsive? Law students? Law students who graduated? Shut the front door!

She goes on a lot of tangents. I understand that she's trying to break this up and make things easier. Which would totally work—if any of her stories were funny or interesting. They are not. Now she's telling some story about how her daughters didn't want to learn the multiplication tables because there's no creativity in it. Lady, nobody here cares that your daughters' creativity was stifled by memorizing the multiplication tables. We're J.D.s, we had our souls crushed in a vise and pulled out of our noses first year and we all learned our multiplication tables in the third grade, without our mothers complaining that straight memorization crushed our butterfly souls. And we're going to be lawyers; if we need to do math, we pull out a calculator. So, please, just explain the products liability question again.

It's not even 11 a.m. We started at 9. I'm already bored to tears (as evidenced by my blog posts). Points for referencing the "Miracle on the Hudson" in a question about landing a plane on a freeway (Lola's note: How psyched were the bar examiners when something like that actually happened?). Though I do not believe for a second that she doesn't know Sully's name.

Bottom line: At the end of this 50 minute lecture, I fervently hoped that she wouldn't be lecturing ever again. On to the afternoon session! Again, this is mostly a transcription of my notes. I have preserved it in this form to allow you to see the evolution of my opinion of the lecturer.


Criminal Law and Procedure with Douglas Moll:

Ok, another "BarBri is awesome" plug. But he did break down what crimes would be on the exam and how many questions would be dedicated to each type of offense. He's a little dry but gets points for his commitment to saying "BARRK" with a long drawling "R" sound. (Note: this is a neumonic device for remembering which dangerous felonies count towards a felony murder charge. For your edification: Burglary, Arson, Rape, Robbery, and Kidnapping (and according to Professor Madden, Sodomy)).

Also, he does voices and impressions. And he just described a murder method as "delightfully absurd." And he pretended to stab an invisible person (Note: he was starting to grow on me). He doesn't scream into the mike as often as Crazy Torts Lady did. Fewer jarring journeys into the realm of inappropriate volume.


Also, fewer stupid anecdotes about his kids learning the multiplication tables (Lola's note: um, clearly her story had a great impact on me. I originally wrote my "butterfly soul" rant in this section of my notes. And this is not my last mention of that comment. Here is the original note-version of that rant: "No one here care if your child's creativity is stifled by memorizing the 10 times table. We're J.D.s. Our souls were squeezed out through our noses over the course of 3 years. We all learned our multiplication tables without our moms whining about our butterfly souls getting crushed. And really, how often do I multiply?")

He gets points for knowing what MadDog is and using it correctly in a hypothetical. (Apparently, according to Professor Moll, mothers are not impressed when you have MadDog in your wine rack). "Mugged my ass" (in response to a hypo defendant).

And, one of my favorite quotes: "A good, old-fashioned pistol-whipping."

Bottom line: He grew on me over the course of 50 minutes. I appreciate his commitment to recreating the hypos. Much better than Crazy Torts Lady.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I have been a negligent blogger lately. Mea culpa. The following is a story whereby I hope to explain my radio silence despite having a week off(!).

We'll start with Saturday. I went to my aunt and uncle's for cake and ice cream for my cousin's 18th birthday. I noticed him texting and asked him if he was going out with his friends later to celebrate. "Nah," he responded, "I'm going to bed. I have to work early tomorrow."

At this point, I had to re-evaluate my life. My 18-year-old cousin, a high school senior, was staying in on the Saturday night before his birthday. I was going to a kegger for a 28-year-old man with a job and a mortgage.

I redeemed myself (sort of) by going to a bridal shower on Sunday and conducting myself like a grown-ass person should. I then drove home. I was looking forward to a bubble bath with my new orange-ginger bubble bath and a glass of Bordeaux. I got to enjoy it for about ten minutes. At which point my lower abdomen started to hurt. Really, really badly. I did what any rational adult would do: I ignored it, hoping it would go away. That didn't work. Especially since the pain was directly over my right hip, also known as "where your appendix lives." Mama Lo informed me I would know if it was my appendix because I wouldn't be able to bend my knee and pull it to my chest. Yeah, my knee moved about two inches and I started screaming. I gave up and called Olivia to see if she wanted to take me to the E.R. (she brought me a book to read, for which I love her).

I'll give you the short version: I spent 4 out of 4 days seeking medical treatment. I spent 3 out of those 4 nights in the E.R. I had 2 C.T.s, 5 I.V. attempts, 3 successful I.V.s, 2 additional needle sticks for blood tests, 2 urine tests, 2 pelvic exams, an x-ray, 4 doses of morphine, 2 prescriptions for painkillers, and countless painful prods in the abdomen.

Doctors: (jabbing me in the stomach, I grimace and make a sound I didn't know I could make). Damn, it sure seems like it's your appendix!
Lola: Swell.
Doctors: But it's not showing up on the C.T. Take the Vicodin. Come back if you're not better in 12 hours. It still may be your appendix, we don't want that thing to rupture!
Lola: (gulp!)

And I still have no diagnosis. On Wednesday, really cute PA-C guy (more on him later) announced that surgery was coming down to talk to me. I wasn't thrilled about the idea of bing cut open, but I figured "hey, at least they know what's wrong!"
About that.
Two of them came in, jabbed me in the stomach some more and then shrugged. "Could be kidney stones. But, you know, 25% of the time when someone comes in with lower abdominal pain, we never figure out what it is. Take the vicodin. Come back if you start running a fever."
Lola: Are you absolutely sure you passed your medical boards?

A word on really cute P.A.-C guy (hereinafter PACMAN). He was...distractingly cute. I'm not positive about anything that happens under the influence of morphine (I hate morphine. Even after the pounding in my chest and heaviness in my limbs subsides, I still say stupid things. Like, I can hear how stupid I sound, but I am powerless to stop it), but I am 95% sure I made an ass of myself in front of him. Like, kept grinning like an idiot when he'd ask me questions or we'd make eye contact. Now, Grey's Anatomy implies that having a hot medical treater is like winning the lottery. Which may be true for most people, I am not most people. The following exchanges, reproduced for your benefit, occurred:
PACMAN: Any nausea?
Lola: Yes.
PACMAN: Vomiting?
Lola: Nope.
PACMAN: Loss of appetite?
Lola: Yes.
PACMAN: What about diarrhea?
Lola: (mortified whisper) yes.

Sometime later...
PACMAN: Well, no ovarian cysts showed up on the C.T., but just to be sure, I have to do a manual exam. So, if you haven't taken your underwear off yet, go ahead and do that, and I'll be back with a nurse.
Lola: You need me to take off my underwear? (under any other circumstances, hearing that sentence from his mouth would have been the highlight of my week. Except he was about to do a pelvic exam. And I hadn't shaved my legs. I swear that the was the first thought I had. Life is cruel.)
PACMAN: Yep, I'll be back in a minute.
Olivia: ...I'll just step outside too....
Lola: Thanks for that.
A minute later...
PACMAN: So any pain? Any discomfort?
Lola: (bites tongue): Not from the exam.
PACMAN: So, the exam doesn't make it worse? Just the pain you've been having? And the discomfort is just....the normal....
Lola: (stares at ceiling in abject horror) Yeah, just the pain on the right side. No additional discomfort.
PACMAN: Good. Well, everything looks good--seems fine down there.
Lola: thanks.
Olivia: (re-entering): So, how'd it go?
Lola: Excuse me, I have to go die now.

The worst part is, I think in my drugged-up state (damn you, morphine!) I confided to my lady-doctor, a bubbly, sympathetic woman, that I thought PACMAN was hot. I think she told him. I say this only because when PACMAN was going over my discharge stuff, he kept asking "so, anything else for me?" and giving me this funny look even after Olivia and I asked him a dozen questions and said we didn't have anymore. Well, that was a lie. I had two more questions: 1) Are you single? 2) Wanna take me out sometime? But, I had had enough humiliation for one night, so I left with another pain med prescription and a laughing Olivia.
Bottom line: I have spent the past three weeks alternately in pain or drugged up. It doesn't do much for me. I hate Vicodin maybe more than morphine because it makes me nauseous. But, hilarity did ensue. I was waiting for she-funk to pick me up to get food one day, and I decided to check my phone. Which had died during the night, while I was Vicodin'd out. I found several panicked voicemails/texts.

Voicemail (and text): J-man: Are you ok? What are they doing for you? Do you need someone to come up there?
Voicemail: D: Hey, are you alright? Dad wants me to come down to check on you? I called Olivia. I didn't leave a message. Tell her it was me.

So, I call back:
Phone call, J-man: Are you ok?
Lola: I'm fine. I took my pain meds and my phone died. I've been napping and doing laundry.
J-man: Do you need your sister to come up there?
Lola: No. . .
J-man: Better call her then!
Lola: (eyeroll)

Phone call:
Lola: D, it's me
D: Oh my God, are you ok?
Lola: yes, Jabba just overreacted. My phone died and I didn't know it because I was drugged and asleep.
D: Ahhh, good. Tell Olivia I was the one who called her.
Lola: For the record, if something really bad happened, the hospital, the police, or one of my crazy friends will probably contact you guys. Simmer down. If anyone had bothered to check facebook, they would have realized I was safe and sound and doing laundry.
D: good point.

Phone call: Mama Lo.
Lola: Mercy Hospital!
Lola: See? You're the only one who thought that was funny!

I get the impression most mothers would not have been as amused.
So, there you have it. The combination of drugs, searing pain, and Barbri have conspired to make me very cranky. And a negligent blogger. So much for my summer vacation.