Monday, February 6, 2012

Guest Post: BaR Tender

I did a guest blog entry for Sara Lind at Moments of Exhilaration. Sara's blog is awesome and I was happy to oblige. She's taking the bar so let's all say a moment of silence for the hell that is the bar exam.

Here's my advice for Sara:

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This is all new to me, this guest blogging. I fancy myself the Joan Rivers to Sara’s Johnny Carson. I sure don’t envy Sara right now as she studies for the bar exam. That was a dark and stressful summer (2003) when I was holed up in different libraries across the city trying to cram three years of law school into my head by the end of July. I remember the stress rising with the temperature as the summer days ticked by. That whole summer I took 2 nights off: one to celebrate my 30th birthday at a drag show on Clark Street (the Baton Club? Holla!) and one to see the Dixie Chicks at the United Center.

Other highlights of that summer included when, in a fit of exhaustion and drama the likes of which I didn’t see again until early motherhood, I took a teddy bear home from my therapist’s office and ripped the arms off. Why? I have no fucking idea. You tell me why the rule against perpetuities is on the bar exam and then I’ll tell you why (1) my therapist had a mangy old teddy bear in his office in the first place (2) that I pilfered, and (3) then defiled. That’s the kind of inexplicable, wacky crap I did to “relieve” stress. I still have that teddy bear but my kids are afraid of it. Because it has no arms. I now have better ways to deal with stress that involve on-line shopping and chocolate pudding.

I clearly remember the day after the bar exam was over. It was a hot Thursday. I actually remember that it was July 30. I barely slept that night because I couldn’t get the last question from the exam out of my mind. It was a question about whether polygraph tests are admissible in court. For the non-legal readers, that question was what’s known as a “softball.” The problem is that my brain by then was softer than Charmin. Still today I can’t remember what the deal is with polygraphs and I chalk that up to post traumatic stress disorder. I am pretty sure they are inadmissible. But all night long I kept trying to remember both what the correct answer was and what answer I chose. After all those nights of studying (and dismembering innocent plush toys), I was finally free and still couldn’t get my mind to rest. The following day I wept every hour. I sat in a friend’s car and just cried and cried trying to purge myself of all the stressful toxins and to take in the stunning realization that I could go to lunch and take as long as I wanted. I could lie on the couch. I could watch the Jerry Springer show. I could do any goddamned thing I wanted. As soon as I stopped crying.

When I started to recuperate and regain my previous mental footing (such as it was), I gathered my wits about me and decided to buy myself a present. I wanted a token of appreciation for myself, recognizing all of my hard work and commemorating the beginning of my lawyerly life. Of course I turned to Ebay. Only in the post-bar stupor could this make any sense. I had a few thousand dollars of salary in advance from my firm and my first stop was not Neimans or Barneys or even Ann Taylor. Nope. Ebay for me, thank you very much. Maybe it was the lure of competition—trying to be the winning bid on Ebay was a methadone for the heroin that was all the bar preparation. In any case, I decided I wanted to be the winning bid on a Tiffany’s bean necklace. (Please reserve judgment; I never said I had good taste.) How elated was I when that satisfying little “ding” of a new email was from Ebay informing me that I had won. My bid for 68.00 on a “mint” condition, authentic Tiffany’s necklace was the winning bid. It was mine, all mine.

That night when my boyfriend came home, I bragged about my Ebay victories and that I was able to go about 4 straight hours without weeping out on the streets. I told him I got a great deal, which I took as a sure sign of my ability to negotiate great settlements as a lawyer. The necklace was my talisman and predicted future success. He looked over the email from Ebay and remarked off-handedly that it was funny that I bought a necklace from England.


Turns out, the legal genius herself missed a few details on the Ebay posting. I missed that the necklace was coming from London. And then I missed that the cost was in pounds, not US dollars. My perfect little coup was actually going to cost me more than if I had walked to Tiffany’s on Michigan Avenue and asked for the top-shelf sterling silver bean necklace. My boyfriend at the time thought that was funny and laughed in that humiliating “I swear I am not laughing at you, but really we both know I am laughing my ass off at you” way. Dear readers, I got him back. I convinced him to go to law school before we broke up so that one day he too would have to face his own bar exam demons. I can only hope that his celebrations included some intemperate Ebay-ing and googling his ex-girlfriends (whose firm picture prominently featured her fancy English Tiffany’s necklace).

So, good luck to Sara. Do call me before you make any bids on jewelry and remember what they say about polygraphs . . . whatever the hell it is.

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