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Archive for July, 2010

Dear Bar Exam Takers:

Today is the day you’ve been preparing for. You are no doubt taking the exam and thus, not reading my blog. It’s ok. I’ll forgive you….just this once.

Kick the bar exam’s ass today and tomorrow (and Thursday if applicable) if for no other reason that once you pass the exam you have permanent permission to use the word “lawyered” as a verb a la Marshall on HIMYM. Now that is a goal worth fighting for. Take it.  

Best Wishes,

Life Unrehearsed

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This weekend, I developed a new life plan. Well, maybe not a life plan, but more of an organizational system to make life more productive. As I stated in an earlier post, I don’t have a job right now. Among a whole host of emotional issues that come along with that, the most overwhelming issue is that life feels meaningless.

I don’t have to be anywhere in the morning. I don’t strive for personal satisfaction through my professional life. I don’t have colleagues to associate with. I don’t have a boss to impress. I don’t have any structure to my day. It’s really frustrating.  This weekend I decided that I although there are many “things” that I don’t have right now, that I should focus on what I do have and what I am good at doing.

One thing I am really, really good at is organization. I love post-its, colored tabs, binders, paperclips, filing systems. I get pretty excited over all of it. Lame, I know, but I absolutely love knowing where things are – probably why I actually like research – I get to know where things are and then reorganize it. Based on this skill set, I organized my life. I made files of my own to organize and color code (hot pink is my fav color for coding). I know how to manage files. I went to law school and worked in a clinic – I have dealt with multiple case files (organized) and my own school files with research, papers, etc. (organized). When I read cases, I color coded my highlighting. And not just as a 1L. I still did it as a 3L because I couldn’t stand not having color coded casebooks. If I’m going to read, I might as well color code.

Sidenote: I probably should have been an elementary school teacher based on my love of organization. All the cubbies that exist in elementary schools to facilitate organization is lovely. The germs that children possess is not lovely and was a total deterrent for me.

After getting my stuff organized, I decided to tackle the issue of time management. I typically have great time management skills…when I have something to manage. The problem with having no job and all the above issues I listed off, is that you’re the only person that can hold yourself accountable for how time is used. It’s really easy to get lost on the internet or to decide that you can do something tomorrow because you’re involved in a re-run episode of Grey’s Anatomy. It’s Scarlett* Syndrome at its finest. There’s always tomorrow.

Now, a little Scarlett Syndrome is probably pretty healthy. Those dishes can wait until tomorrow when a friend really needs you. The project you brought home can wait until after you have dinner with your significant other. You know, things more important than syndicated Grey’s Anatomy re-runs.  The problem with overwhelming Scarlett Syndrome in a job search context is that things can actually change overnight. Things can be completely different tomorrow if you do the work today. So, I’ve banished Scarlett (sorry Miss O’Hara – I’ll still watch you in the movie) from my life and created a lovely schedule. I’m resolved to keeping said schedule.

I’m excited about my new color coded, organized and managed outlook. Hot pink always makes me happier than scarlet.

 

* For those of you that don’t get the reference, I’m referencing the one and only Scarlett O’Hara from Margaret Mitchell’s iconic novel, Gone with the Wind. This is one of my favorite novels and I feel the need to educate the general population on the particulars because I love it.

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It happens twice a year. It’s terrifying. It’s irrational. And its happening right now. Spotting the nervous, scared, and neurotic recent law grads around town at your local coffee shops, sandwich shops, cafes and parks is like shooting fish in a barrel. You see, they are easy to spot. Not only do they have a crazed look about them – the ohmygodwhatamigoingtodoififailicantfailthebarexam look – but they’re also toting hundreds of index cards and the ball and chain known as bar/bri books.

I know this look well. I know the dreaded feelings well. I’ve been there folks. It sucks. There’s nothing nice to say about the bar exam. As many other blog posts on the bar exam have exclaimed over the past few weeks….if you’re looking for the magic bullet, some end all be all key to passing, this isn’t it. If you’re googling to pass the bar, stop. Google is as dangerous for a bar studier as WebMD is for a hypochondriac.

Something I do believe in is passing along the wisdom that can only be gained from experience. Everyone’s bar exam experiences are different. You may have heard some of the following points from friends, family, or other (less exciting) corners of the internet. But here I am today, paying forward the advice I have from my own bar exam experience.

Without further adieu, these are my top ten pieces of advice for taking the bar exam:

1.      Most likely (at least in my state) the room that you will be taking the exam in is going to resemble an airplane hangar. Seriously, I’m not kidding. It will be huge, it may have concrete floors, it may have a corrugated tin roof. There will be tons of people there. Don’t look around and get all queasy because the room is huge. It will be unsettling. Take a deep breath and just focus on your part of the room. On your table or desk. That is all that matters.

2.      If your state does not have a dress code (mine didn’t, with the exception of prohibited items such as: flip flops, hats, hoods, do-rags, etc.) you will see people there that look like they’re ready for a slumber party. They will have PJ’s on, they will be wearing fuzzy animal slippers, they will look ridiculous. Don’t be distracted by Elmo if he is staring up at you from the next table. Chuckle at the ridiculousness that an adult would actually leave the house dressed like that and forget it. Judge them later, but try not to be distracted by their immaturity.

3.      DO NOT TAKE YOUR CELL PHONE! DO NOT TAKE YOUR CELL PHONE! DO NOT TAKE YOUR CELL PHONE! You really don’t need it. I promise. You won’t die without it for the day. Leave it in the car or back at the hotel room/house. I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories about people getting disqualified (read: automatic fail on the spot) from having a cell phone. This is true. It happens. Don’t be the dumbass with a cell phone. This also applies to ipods, ipads, and any other electronic.

4.     If you have to pay for parking, make sure you have cash, more cash than you need. When I took the bar exam it cost $5.00 to park. You had to pay to get into the lot, not as you left. The morning of the first day I was paying for parking when a fellow neurotic recent law grad bar examinee ran up to my car in tears because she didn’t have any money and didn’t realize you had to pay. Help people out. Front the $5.00 for someone else if they have forgotten their common sense for the day. It won’t kill you. In fact, I believe it’s good karma.

5.      Don’t eat lunch with anyone else. Don’t count on having time or there being somewhere to eat lunch out. It will be disastrous. Even if you love to talk about exams, DO NOT DO IT. You will be a crazy person for it. Don’t let someone else get into your head after working for 3+ months to take the exam. It’s you taking the exam, not the psycho you met for lunch. And people lie. As an almost lawyer, if you don’t already know this, don’t figure it out at the bar exam. Find a park bench, go back to your car and eat the old school PB&J or whatever creation you have packed. Eat a good mix of protein and carbohydrates so you have the energy and brain power to make it through the afternoon. You will be tired at lunch. Refuel. Alone.

6.     Don’t panic if you come to something you don’t know. This will happen. It happens to everyone because it is impossible to know everything. Remember Steve Palmer, Esq. from the PMBR lectures. He’s a bar exam god. He’s taken and passed like 38 bar exams. He is PMBR. I bet even when he sits for the bar, he forgets something. Even if it was something you thought you’d never forget. Something as second nature as your birthday or phone number. When this happens, take a deep breath, dig a few keywords out from the recesses of your brain and move on.

7.      For the love of all that is holy….please shower and wear deodorant. We’re adults here. We live in a society where personal hygiene is expected. We have clean water to bathe in. Take advantage of this for yourself and those around you. No one wants to sit next to the stink bomb.

8.      If your state, like mine, does some dumb parade of important people in the state during one of the mini-breaks while another essay question is being distributed, ignore it. This is pomp and circumstance for people that are important and like to be told they are important. In my state they had formal introductions on the first day of the entire state board of law examiners and the state supreme court. On any other occasion, I probably would have thought that was cool. During the bar exam, it was a waste of time and created anxiety and commotion. If your state participates in a dumb ritual like this one, ignore it. The fact that the state supreme court is present for like 5 mins of the bar exam is irrelevant.

9.     If you need assistance, raise your hand quietly (if that is your state’s policy). Despite the enormity of the room, people are actually watching you like a hawk. They will see your hand go up. Please do not start waiving your arms in the air like you are greeting a long lost lover returning from a hard voyage at sea. You’re not trying to get the attention of the jumbo-tron camera. Be courteous to everyone around you. It’s not their problem, its yours and yours alone. You have no need to sabotage someone else as the bar exam is not really graded on a curve like law school exams. And really, if you would even consider sabotaging someone on the bar exam….know that there is a special place in hell for people like you.

10.    When the exam is finally over, it will take you forever to get out of the parking lot and this is going to irritate you. Be patient and know that you plans are within reach. Go do something. Anything. Take a nap. Drink your body weight in vodka. Go on vacation. Try to rebuild your broken friendships and relationships. Come back from the dead because you are done and you did it!!

GOOD LUCK !

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OK – so, I know I’m new to blogging and all, but I feel like I’ve really let the ball drop on keeping up with the blog. Oops. Anyway, this last week has been pretty busy for someone who doesn’t have a big girl job yet (oh, did I forget to mention that in my “About Me” section? Yep, that’s right, I’m a law-degree holding, non-law practicing, unemployed blogger…YAY?). Enough moaning about being unemployed, although I promise  you will probably hear more about it in future posts. I know that’s just the kind of promise you wanted. I also promise to keep them minimal and amusing, because the entire situation is really funny as hell. Onto what’s new in this unrehearsed life…

Last week I house-sat for some friends of the family. It was nice to get away from my place for a little while, like a mini-vacay on the other side of town. I caught up with trashy television shows that I forbid myself from watching at home (read: The Hills and Oprah – I give you permission to judge away, but before you judge, please note that at this house I couldn’t connect (or figure out how to connect?) my laptop to the internet nor did I have great cell phone reception, so trashy tv got the nod). As great as it was, it felt soooo good to get back home.

I’ve also been over at my dad’s house helping him paint the basement and clean some stuff up. It was just as boring as it sounds, but I got my good deed, I’m the best daughter in the world accolades. I like being useful and praised…it probably has something to do with having some sort of and first-born child syndrome, but whatever. I still like it.

Now to the heart of this post and the inspiration for the title. I’ve had several encounters with several different customer service people over the last week. Some on the phone, some in person. Not to sound like I’m 75 or anything, but customer service is in the fucking tubes these days. Seriously, whatever happened to people being polite and helpful. I mean, as a customer service person, isn’t that kind of in the job description? And by polite, I mean, not calling me names. This past week, I have been called a liar, degenerate, stupid, and irrational, among other things. When did insulting people in a customer service situation become appropriate conduct (not that insulting people is ever really appropriate)?  Sidenote: I have a post on verbal accountability that I’m working on, so I’ll address that issue at a later date.

I have noticed this week that customer service people these days tend to pass the buck to someone else that is equally offensive, if you can ever navigate away from the telephone tree and are lucky enough to have your call routed somewhere in North America. For one company I spoke to, the supervisors and managers were even worse than the representatives. And really, when I ask a direct question, please do not skirt the question by giving me some bullshit pat policy answer, and then tell me to “calm down” when I ask the question again. Seriously, CALM DOWN?! I will spare you from my tirade on people telling others to calm down when there is not an aggressive situation (i.e., a fist fight or suicide attempt) to calm down from, but I believe you dear readers are smart and can figure out how I feel about it.

The in person customer situation that I faced this week was just as demeaning and unproductive. This person was a college administrator. You see, I’m enrolling in community college here for several reasons, one being so that my brain doesn’t turn to mush during this unemployment period and so that I can try to resurrect the six years of Spanish classes that I’ve had even though all I remember is a few swear words and how to find beer and the restroom. I digress, what I needed was to have a form filled out by someone at this college. This woman was rude, unfriendly, and appeared to be a know it all.  I tried to have my questions about the form answered over the phone, but no one from the school either (a) answered the phone in the first place, or (b) returned any of my messages or emails from last week. Bad customer service. I got to the college and waited in line for two hours to talk to someone. That someone was this woman. It was a bad experience. As I left, without my questions answered, my forms filled out (which must be done by said woman who refused to do it), three hours of my life wasted, I was reduced to tears. And I really don’t cry. It was awful.

[Pollyanna Alert] So my real question is, where is the love? I know times are tough for a lot of people right now – some are worse off than others – but maybe we should be nicer to people? After this week, I’m sure going to try because you never know what someone else is going through.

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I love the food network. I love watching them create a dish that I would never think of making in 30 minutes. I love watching new chefs compete for a time slot on a network that is known for taking regular people and skyrocketing them into fame. I just love the food network.

One of my favorites is a food network giant. She doesn’t have the culinary training that some people think is necessary to have before one can be sold as a chef. She doesn’t have exclusive restaurants in the most competitive markets. Her laugh is a little irritating and her meals aren’t known for their health content, but she is Paula Deen and she is my fantasy celebrity Grandma.

 Seriously, can you imagine stopping by her charming Savannah house, with the wrap around porch, freshly brewed sweet tea, and welcoming smells of butter and batter emulating from the house – only intensified by the muggy Savannah heat? I think it would be delightful. I think she would welcome you into the home, stuff you full of hush puppies and gooey butter cake and make you think everything was right with the world. I can just hear her calling me “sugah” and “blessing my heart” as we work through some trivial tragedy, as only grandmas can do.

 God I love the food network.

*This is fantasy celebrity grandma, real life problems like butter induced heart attacks or the need to spend a bazillion dollars on a trainer to work off Miss Paula’s creations is a moot point. In my fantasy draft, the fact that I would be big as a house from eating her food is non-existent.

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Inaugural Post

Well, the WordPress default for this post is Hello World! I guess that’s fitting.

Starting this blog has been a long time coming. I’m not doing it because it’s popular or because I supposedly have nothing better to do. Although both may be true, I’m starting this blog because I like to write. I need an outlet. I have lots of opinions on lots of things – some important, some not. And if you’re willing to stop by and read about the idiosyncrasies of my life, well, then I’ll write about them for you….and for me.

For now, I just want to introduce myself to you, future readers.

Hello World!

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