Friday, February 12, 2010

Complaining about bar-study conditions.

I wanted to take a moment to write about my feelings about my studying for the bar and about things that are going on.

Firstly, I have been going to Starbucks to study; I'm here now taking a 5-minute break (really a 10 minute one) before resuming my studies. I am freaking out that we are getting so DANGEROUSLY CLOSE to the bar exam, and that there are SO MANY TOPICS THAT I KNOW I DO NOT KNOW! The last time I studied for a bar exam, I was still single and I had full mobility and er, sovereignty to move and study when and where I wanted to. Now, I'm limited by my family constraints which really KILL my ability to effectively study.

First of all, I can't study in the morning until after 9am when I drop my kids off to school (or my wife more frequently does) because even if I woke up in the morning, the kids wake up before I do and I can get NOTHING done when they're around. Secondly, now that I'm here at Starbucks, I've gotten a good 2.5 hours of studying done, but in half an hour, I'll need to pack up and leave because my wife needs the car to pick up our son.

I really have violated my own rules and guidelines that I set for myself to study for the bar. First of all, I promised myself that I would go to morning Barbri classes. After class, I would have lunch, and then study for around 5 hours and be home in time for dinner. This NEVER EVEN ONCE happened.

After my morning class, I ALWAYS CAME HOME so that my wife can have the car. Then when I was home at 12pm, I never got even a chance to study until 4:30pm. How? Well, I got home at 12pm, spoke to my wife a bit, printed some documents, ate some lunch, and then it was 2:30pm when my wife picked up our son. It wasn't until 4:30pm that I could get out of the house at the earliest, and even then, most of the time I stayed home trying to study at home (usually unsuccessfully causing a fight between me and my wife in the process). I studied the best I could and come seven or eight o'clock when the kids were finally asleep, I never studied even once.

More common was this schedule. I woke up in the morning, waited until 8:30a until my wife dropped our son off at school. Then when she returned at 9am, I went to Starbucks until 1pm getting three hours of work done (and wasting another hour trying to get the computer to work, or to pack up and unpack the computer and everything every time I needed to take a bathroom break (which was quite frequent because coffee goes right through me)). Then at 1:30pm I arrived home and didn't get out of the house until 4pm because I had to pack dinner, take a shower, help a bit with the kids, etc. 4:30pm I would actually end up in the car, and 5pm I would arrive at the Starbucks, but only with an hour before my 6pm Barbri class (most of the time I would go at night). I would stand on line, buy coffee, drive to class, park, and head in. I would usually sit down around 5:30pm and 30 minutes is not enough to do anything, so I would review my notes or browse the web until class started. After class, I'd come home at 9:30pm-9:45pm every day, and my brain would be fried. I'd try to review my notes, but shortly afterwords, I'd sit down and watch an episode of 24 or Lost or something with my wife and the night would be over.

I really feel there was not enough time to study for this exam. I set out so many tasks which I felt were BASIC FUNDAMENTAL NEEDED ACTIVITIES to simply PASS (not to excel), including 1) GETTING MY NOTES IN ORDER, 2) REVIEWING MY NOTES, 3) DOING THE ASSIGNED PRACTICE QUESTIONS, 4) DOING ESSAYS, and I almost never got past item 2 (until two weeks ago when I said "to hell with the notes; I'm doing practice questions and essays!" -- well, to date, I've done many questions but not in all topics and I still have so much to do, and I HAVEN'T EVEN APPROACHED THE ESSAYS OR THE MPT. I also have two classes to make up which I'll have to do online. Luckily, they're not main classes. I also have a number of classes where the notes are only half completed, and family law, where I haven't even begun.

I'm feeling so helpless, and I wish I could check into a hotel and get away for more than a few days before the exam. This coming Thursday, I'm checking into a hotel, but thinking about it, maybe I can arrange to get away as early as Sunday. The problem is that my wife is about to give birth any day, so this is a HIGHLY STRESSFUL TIME and I don't know what to do, whether to stay, whether to go, what to do, etc. I wish things were easier. I wish I weren't in New York where it takes me forever to get from my apartment to anywhere I can study. I lose so much time taking the train or driving around; I wish I had a desk in my home and a door I can close so that I don't have to lose 30 minutes at a time every time I have to run to the restroom.


Ahuva said...

Is there any way to reschedule the exam? Checking into a hotel sounds like the only way you're going to be able to study-- but how can you do that if your wife is due any day? And what are you going to do if she gives birth before the exam?

Zoe Strickman said...

The issue is not necessarily her giving birth during the bar exam -- that's manageable because her parents, family, and friends are all local so if she gives birth during the bar exam, I can meet her at the hospital. The issue is if she gives birth THIS TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, OR THURSDAY, then if its a boy, the bris would be on the day of the bar exam and as far as I know (I'd have to ask a rav), a bris can only take place in the morning which means I'd likely miss the bar exam (unless perhaps we do it at 6:30am or something which is almost impossible). If that happens, then I'm guessing I'll have to wait until next year to take the exam. This would pain me deeply.

Anonymous said...

We had our son's brit milah at 3:00 p.m. in an orthodox shul, orthodox rabbis, orthodox mohel. Not certain of course what your Rav will reply but perhaps for something of this magnitude the brit milah can be later in the day...OR After maariv the prior that an idea? It really is THE 8th Day, right?

Ahuva said...

And she really doesn't mind at all if you're not there? You and I come from such different worlds... When one of my friends gave birth, her husband was there. He sang tehillim to help distract her from the birthing pains and so that she would know that he was there to support her, even though it was the doula holding her hand.