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.