Friday, July 29, 2011

The Bar

The bar exam happened yesterday and the day before that. While full of entertaining procedures, I have to say that the test seemed to be run very well. We started early on Tuesday morning as all 500 or so of us spread out on plastic tables in a giant room while proctors wandered up and down the aisles checking on whether any of us had brought things into the room from the long list of prohibited items, which included anything not necessary to stay alive for up to 7 hours. Interestingly, the list of prohibited items seemed pretty unnecessary as the examiners provided an exhaustive list of acceptable items (which, I think, literally included only four things) that could cross the sacred threshold into test-haven. Nonetheless, the list of prohibited items included a range of things that I can only imagine somehow have the potential of concealing cheating, creating chaos, or aiding violence. I mention violence because "weapons" were actually on this list, which was unfortunate for anyone who had hoped to bring with them their lucky machete. Based on the 3,000 stern warnings we had received via email prior to the first exam day, I sort of expected to see TSA at the doors with full friskings and "nude" machines. Instead we were all mostly on the honor system, but a much more bizarre version of the honor system than any that I have ever experienced. Rather than try to explain to you the rules of this honor system, I'll provide an example of it: one friend of mine was asked to pat herself down in front of the doorman before entering the room, presumably because he wasn't comfortable patting her down himself. I never was quite sure what he expected from the self-pat down, however, and I also didn't hear whether he asked afterward if she discovered any prohibited items on herself during the quick investigation. But I wished that she had told him that during the course of her protective frisk she discovered that she was attempting to smuggle a shotgun into the testing area and thus should be immediately apprehended (this while simultaneously running away screaming, "you'll never catch me!").

The exam went without any real drama on Tuesday, although I did hear from multiple sources that someone had thrown up into a sink in the men's bathroom during the morning. Nobody knew who had done it but the talk of the lunch break was that the puke was bright orange, which I unfortunately heard about from half a dozen or so people who all seemed to be completely mesmerized by the abnormal color.

Perhaps the only entertainment of the day that wasn't disgusting was listening to the 30 minutes of instructions from Ms. Thang, explaining to us many things in painstaking detail that people should just be required to know in order to be alive. For example, she told us more than once that the top left corner of the test booklet is the one closest to the staple. We were also informed on multiple occasions that we were not allowed to take our test materials into the bathroom with us (presumably so they wouldn't get orange throw up on them). She repeatedly explained how to do tasks that each of us came out of the womb performing as she instructed us to fill out our personal information on the test materials. After each instruction she asked us to look up at her when we had completed the task so she would know when everyone was ready to move on. This seemed impractical, however, as all 500 of us were spread out so broadly across the room that there was absolutely no way whatsoever this woman could possibly have known when or if all of us were looking up at her. Fortunately we were given half of an eternity to finish each part of this process even though the most time consuming of any of the tasks constituted nothing more than filling in a couple of bubbles on a scantron bubble sheet.

Wednesday was more of the same only instead of typing essays for seven hours, we answered a couple hundred multiple choice questions. And just like that, it was over. There was some awkward clapping when we were finally released before the parking lot cleared out about 4 minutes later. There was no real intense feeling of relief when it all ended. A new sort of panic called "nothing-I-can-do-about-it panic" was immediately born, which perfectly replaced the old panic called "oh-shoot-the-test-is-in-blank-days-and-I-still-don't-understand-the-way-the-world-works panic." Neither is preferable to the other. Although the latter necessarily comes with embarrassment while the former, only the potential for it.

And now the last 24 hours have been a blur as I've attempted to get my affairs in order for a 5-week backpacking trip through eastern and central Europe with a friend (and a few family members, toward the end of it). Due to the bar (and general laziness) absolutely no plans have been made for this trip (stay tuned for some likely enlightening posts). My flight leaves five hours from now (at 8:30AM) and I just started packing. Obviously I'm feeling a great amount of urgency, as is evidenced by a much undeserved blogging break. My time management discipline has been a bit off since the test ended and I don't seem to have direction anymore. What's that saying? Idle hands are something about the devil? A penny saved is a penny earned? It takes one to know one? Don't look a gift horse in the mouth? As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death? Whatever it is, it applies here.

I'm very tired.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Like the new look...especially the header. Glad you survived the Bar. Have fun on your trip! Blow kisses to Ukraine for us. We were in the backpacking mecca area of Ukraine. Are you heading over that way?

  2. Be safe and have an awesome adventure (as i know you will)--make sure whatever diseases you acquire while there are properly disposed of or cleared through customs when you get back!!

  3. At one point during the exhaustive instructions I looked over to my tablemates and mouthed something like "Since we're here to take the Bar, you'd think they'd have a slightly higher opinion of our intelligence..." Only not very loudly, because I didn't want to get kicked out for talking out of turn.

    I spent a lot of the test and the days leading up to it in a sort of Zen-like acceptance: I knew I didn't know anything, all my last-minute cramming only seemed to reinforce that, and I wouldn't at all be surprised if I failed... But the panic never quite hit. Very weird.

    Thanks, by the way, for blogging all through law school (and after!) Reading your stories has made me far more appreciative of our shared experiences. :)

  4. Have fun on your trip, glad you survived. Heading to the Carpathians? Nadvirna is a hub for hiking there we hear. You could even stay in "Hotel Hell" where we did before heading out? :-)