Monday, July 27, 2009

It's That Time Again...Bar Exam Blues

End of July. Time for all wannabe lawyers to sit through what will inevitably be three of the most trying days of their lives. Followed by three months of excruciating waiting for the results to come out.

Part of my job allows me to help hand out lunches to recent law school grads on the first day of the Bar exam. I actually really enjoy the chance to pass on some encouragement to them and check to make sure everything is going ok. But as I walked in today, I couldn't help but think about how I felt three years ago, during my Bar summer...

Bar Review (May 13- July 4- miss first week of extra multi-state review (multi-state exam, or MBE, is the multiple choice section of the Bar that everyone around the country takes- basically covers material from first year of law school) to attend Francie's wedding in Ohio. Spend early part of Bar Review afternoons at the pool doing notecards with friends. Head to the gym, then spend evenings doing multistate questions on computer.

July 2-7- attend Theta Grand Convention in Texas, spend 4th of July with Richard and Hannah at Mi Tierra and watching the fireworks at the Navy base in San Antonio. Study Payment Systems by pool at the Menger hotel. Start to make my friends really nervous about the potential of me passing because, really, who goes on vacation less than a month before the Bar?!

Clemson Thetas at Grand Convention

Fourth of July at the Mexican Restaurant

July 8-24- start intense study of State Bar material. Am thankful that Jill and Mary Madison have adopted similar approach. Start crying in Bar Review at final day of state review when Probate instructor gives pep talk involving his belief that a monkey could pass the exam.

Taking a brief study break to celebrate Jen and Mary Madison's birthdays

Monday- Day 1- head to the fairgrounds early, cooler packed with diet mountain dews and snacks for breaks and lunch out at the car, feeling nervousness mixed with excitement over finally getting this thing over with. Take sections covering domestic relations and equity, wills, trusts and estates, and insurance. Ends up not being too bad- despite having to start and re-start a section because the wrong questions were handed out to a small group of people in my room. Thankful to have not the guy who looked past the entire equity question, leaving it completely blank (no worries- he still passed, but that made for one dramatic realization). Leave fairgrounds exhilarated that I have survived Day 1. Feeling quickly fades when I think about returning home to study.

Monday night- still Day 1- visit good friend Jen to go over questions regarding Day 2 material, realize that I understand absolutely nothing about the UCC, despite having a whole class on Secured Transactions and going through a great deal of Bar review on the very subject. Leave in total panicked state. Listen to theme song of the week "If You"re Going Through Hell..."

Tuesday- Day 2- Return to Fairgrounds, dreading what is to come. Harder subjects, more hand writing. Cooler still packed with diet mountain dews. Encounter train on the way to exam. Alternate between being freaked out over not making it to fairgrounds and hoping for a reprieve and excuse from having to go back. Make check-in with just a few minutes to spare. Am ok with Business Corporations, Civil Procedure, but am thrown a complete curveball on Secured Transactions section. Will never know if I indeed passed that section (you can fail one).

Tuesday night- Say 2- Should be studying for MBE, but instead spend better part of evening on phone with Richard, who was out in Texas doing a rotation at the time. We are not dating at that point, but I am thrilled to talk to someone not going through the Bar misery. Ask him to pick me up some eye shadow from the San Antonio Sephora.

Wednesday, Day 3- Drive to Fairgrounds thinking Hallelujah, it's the last day! I don't even care if I pass, I just want to be DONE! Take first section of MBE, which is way harder than I thought it would be. Go to lunch at Groucho's with Jill and Jen, only friends who were brave enough to leave test-taking site. Discuss questions over lunch and freak out over different answers and the potential of returning late back to exam.

Wednesday, Day 3, 5:15 pm- finish Bar exam, frantically text/call friends to find out where everyone is. Head to Yo Burrito, then to Salty Nut, finally fall into bed about 11 pm.

Thursday, 9:30 am- Wake up and start thumbing through multi-state books to try and figure out what questions I got right and wrong. Don't know what to do with myself without having something to study. Spend next few days at beach with friends, but obsessively think about questions for next three football tailgates, before bed time, during work, etc. etc. Want to discuss questions with fellow Bar takers. Am completely certain I have failed multi-state exam and will be taking it again in February.

Friday, October 27th- Go to work, but spend morning on pins and needles. Results supposed to be posted at 4 pm, so I leave around 2 pm (after having lunch with a friend from out-of-town, I must have been really terrible company!).

3:30 pm- Crawl in bed, turn off all the lights, unplug the house phone, turn off cell phone. Climb under covers with laptop. Begin refreshing results page over and over until....

3:57 pm- LIST IS UP! IT'S EARLY! AND MY NAME'S ON IT!!!!! I have never been so relieved in my life. Turn cell back on, start calling friends and family. Funny enough, I get so caught up in talking that I forget to call Richard, who I am now dating, and who is in the OR at Greenville on yet another away rotation. He happens to be operating with someone who's wife has taken the exam and who has called to let him know she passed. Richard begins to worry if I failed. Oops. I do talk to him eventually.

Later that evening- We gather back at the Yo Burrito to celebrate. Thankful that God has gotten us through, thankful to not have to take it again, and thankful to finally be able to add Esq. behind our names.

New Lawyers

So happy!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Moose, Agates and Pie

If it's a Friday afternoon, I often can be found traveling up I-77 to the Charlotte Douglas International airport- I am really starting to feel like the multiple US Air terminals are my second homes! This past Friday was no exception, but instead of heading to DC, I was on my way to see my dear friend Kim in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Kim was my freshman year roommate at Clemson, is way smarter than I could ever dream of being and is beginning her third year as a urology resident at the hallowed Mayo Clinic. I had been to visit her in her new town of Rochester back in October, but since Kim had a beautiful baby boy, Jackson, in January, I was way overdue for another visit!

Though terrible traffic in Charlotte caused me to miss my originally scheduled flight, I finally landed in Minneapolis/St. Paul sometime after midnight central time on Friday (a trip to South Park and new on-sale Lilly dress later). Kim's in-laws live right near the Twin Cities, and we were able to spend Friday night with them. Kim's father-in-law is a huge Michigan fan, and this once-live Wolverine was located right outside our lovely guest room. I understand being passionate about your team, but I was impressed by the level that Mr. Burgess took it to! Brian, Kim's husband, is also an ardent UM fan, so you can imagine what their house must have been like for the Clemson-Michigan NCAA tourney game! Kim promises Jackson was wearing Clemson I wish my Tigers could have won that one! The wolverine was especially hard for this granddaughter of an Ohio State fan to take, but the Burgesses were very kind to let us stay for the night!

On Saturday, Kim and Jackson and I took off for the Minnesota town of Duluth, which is on the shores of Lake Superior and is the hometown of Bob Dylan. We enjoyed yummy Chicago-style pizza and watched the aerial bridge be lifted to let a ship through. We also explored the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor center and coveted the s'mores being served at the Inn on Lake Superior.

Poor baby- wearing my sunglasses

Duluth Waterfront- who knew the shore was made up of rocks?
(Lake Superior is known for its agates)

Kim and J and the Aerial Lift Bridge

After we had fully taken in Duluth, we headed 20 miles north to the town of Two Harbors, where we stayed Saturday and Sunday nights. On Sunday, we had a fabulous breakfast at the Vanilla Bean cafe, then hiked part of the Superior Trail. We took in several beautiful waterfalls on the trail and worked off our indulgent breakfast. it's amazing how much more of a workout you can get while carrying a nearly 20 lb baby! We also visited the Split Rock Lighthouse and had dinner at the famous Betty's Pies. I had the best pie I've ever tasted- a bumbleberry that was strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and perhaps a couple of other berries. The cold winters on the North Shore must inspire quality kitchen time, because we had more incredible pie at the Rustic Inn Cafe Monday before heading out out of town.

Upper Falls on Superior Trail

Selection at Betty's Pies

Northern Minnesota is an interesting place. It didn't get above 75 degrees by the Lake, and it was in the 50s once the sun went down at night. There are moose everywhere (yes, moose is the plural of moose)- on the shower curtain at our hotel, on t-shirts and on light fixtures, but sadly we did not spot any real ones. According to a local, the best time to see a moose is in the fall or the spring. The whole state of South Carolina could fit into Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, and hardly anyone swims in Lake Superior because the water temperature rarely climbs above 50. Minnesota is the birthplace of not only Bob Dylan, but also Judy Garland and Prince, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Warren E. Burger, and is the 12th largest of the United States.

The most important fact about Minnesota though, is that I have a best friend there, and she and her little family have allowed me to experience a fascinating place that few southern girls choose to explore. Kim, I am so proud of you for making the most of your time there (she's been dog-sledding y'all!), and I know that Mayo is a better place for having you as a part of it. I loved the trip, not just for the fun sights we saw, but for Jackson's laughs and smiles, our cathartic venting sessions, and for the comfort that comes by just being in the presence of a friend who knows you better than most. And I love your child more than I ever thought was possible. Can't wait to see you and Jackson (and Brian too!) hopefully very soon!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fourth of July in Our Nation's Capitol- A Top Ten List

While July 4th, 2009 is now firmly rooted in the past (blogging has been interrupted by a great deal of recent traveling), I still thought my Capitol Fourth was worth an entry. Here are ten highlight's from my fun-filled five day trip to D.C.

10. Spending most of the 4th on the steps of the Capitol with Richard and Min and Vin and enjoying the festivities, from singing "C is for Cookie" with Cookie Monster to "Copacabana" with Barry Manilow. We brought three coolers full of food for six people and ate a full feast, including Richard's incredible homemade hash and old school Fun Dip for firework watching.

Proudly sporting the red, white and blue

9. Watching the fireworks explode over the backdrop of the Washington Monument, Potomac River and National Mall, coordinated with patriotic music played by the National Symphony Orchestra. In an effort to share my love for America, I even gave my flag that the concert staff passed out to the little Canadian girl behind me. (Richard was not very impressed with this show of diplomacy to our northern neighbor after having been sent to fetch said flag).

Big Bird taking over as NSO Conductor

8. Getting to hold Ryan and Mary's sweet baby Julia, who is 3 months old and just as cute as she can be.

7. Seeing Max, our dear friend who completed intern year with Richard, and who has been in Egypt at a base near Sharm el-Sheikh for the past several months. He and his wife Ashley quickly became close friends of ours, and we have missed Max greatly! Luckily he will be back in DC for good in September.

6. Date night with Richard to the Rustico and Buzz in Alexandria, Virginia. It's hard to beat perfect outside dining weather, great food (make you slap your mama mac and cheese, a melon, tomato and blue cheese salad I can't wait to duplicate and a chocolate dipped in chocolate cupcake), and even better company. We were celebrating Richard's May birthday- better late than never!

5. Sunday morning at McLean Bible Church. Richard is part of their amazing music ministry, and the MBC pastor Lon Solomon shared a very timely sermon on the Church's role in America today.

4. Multiple trips to Target and Wal-Mart in search of a rolling cooler and other 4th of July supplies. So much more fun going with someone than by yourself!

3. Watching the Braves beat the Nats 9-8 on their home field, even though we kind of missed Conrad Brooks' three-run homer in the top of the 7th to put the Braves ahead. Not the best time to make a trip to the concession stand, but that hotdog was pretty darn good!

With friends Justin and Veronica waiting for post-game firework

2. Driving a red PT Cruiser all over Montgomery County Maryland. Richard had to work way out in Virginia on Tuesday and was not completely sure he'd make it back in time to get me to the airport, so we rented me a car for the day so that I could get around town and possibly take myself to the airport. Not sure I'll be investing in the PT anytime soon, but it was fun for a day!

1. Spending four whole days with a boy I see far too infrequently. He rarely gets a weekend off, let alone weekdays, so this was a rare treat. Long distance relationships make you treasure even simple moments of watching a movie on the couch and sitting by the pool, and I am thankful we were able to share so many of those moments!