It is finished.

After completing my second final last week and blog-updating you on the progress, it was back to the grind for yet another fun filled adventure--this one was called Public International Law. Fortunately I had a whole week to prepare for this one. And boy did I ever need it. Day after day passed and I would roll into my bed sometime past midnight, calm in what I thought was a realistic anticipation of everything magically coming together at some point before my Thursday morning final, because, frankly, it always seems to come together in time. That optimism suddenly turned to panic on Wednesday afternoon at exactly 1:47 PM when I sat in a last minute Q & A with 50 of my closest friends and the professor of the course where it finally occurred to me that for exactly 47 minutes people had been discussing the material for a test that could make or break my entire life the next morning and I truly had no clue what was going on. For several minutes at a time I wondered whether people were speaking Hebrew. I just made sure to generally mimic the collective emotion of the class (laugh when they were laughing) so as not to blow my cover over obliviousness. This is a common occurrence for law-school-Eli during the semester but not for day-before-final-Eli who seems to have magically pulled it together by then.

So, despite the great entertainment going on in the row in front of me (Annette, one of my biggest idols and in my top 10 list of smartest people I know, was typing away on her laptop and in true Annette fashion repeating every 14th word that escaped the professor's lips, out loud and in an inquisitive tone, usually followed by a fragment of a joke related to that word; a joke that I can only imagine is utterly brilliant when connected with her thoughts), I quickly gathered my things and sprinted to the fourth floor study area that my friends and I have completely taken over and have recently named "CTU" (we have every intention of renaming it "the clubhouse" when finals are over and we are all allowed to start having fun). I slammed my 600 page case-book on a table and frantically started reading, positive that I was going to get through every page by 8:30 the next morning, or die trying.

My friends must have gotten worried about me because Corey brought me both chocolate and some drink injected with caffeine and then spent the rest of the day periodically walking into the room just to say things like, "you are SO smart! You are going to be great tomorrow. You've gone up against worse." On a side note, I always know when Corey is worried about me because she is willing to part with chocolate, a gesture that indicates that she believes I need it more than she does (and anyone who knows Corey, knows that things have to be pretty bad for her to think someone might need chocolate more than her). Additionally, Annette returned from the review and gave me a high school football coach locker room speech that you only hear in movies (the ones where a bunch of misfits form a sports team that fails until someone believes in them, thus granting them the magical power to defeat the rival team full of quasi-professional athletes (that cannot possibly be in high school based on their size and general facial maturity), which inevitably solves all of the life problems of each of the once-misfits). Her speech started out with something like, "look at me. I'm telling you right now, we are going to be fine." And it ended with her making me promise that I believed her when she swore on her life we were going to survive.

We used every precious minute until deep into the night when we all decided to get some sleep. Miraculously it did seem to come together at the last possible minute. What can I say--I like a suspenseful ending.

Two months ago Annette and I wrote in our planners that as soon as that final was finished, we were going to go to Cafe Rio, and then leisurely wander around the mall all afternoon to do our Christmas shopping. The leisurely wander was total torture after a shockingly long and hard-in-a-lot-of-ways semester, so after 2 hours of not buying anything, we went home and took naps.

Maybe this all sounds a little dramatic. I have been known to dramatize things a bit (or so I'm told). But what I've gone through on this academic roller coaster for two and a half years, and specifically, for the past few months, has really felt dramatic. So drama in my writing only seems fitting, although underwhelming from my perspective. But the challenging experiences have been unique. And I'm really grateful for every minute of it. Law school is making me better than I was. It's been really challenging. Much more so than I thought it would be. Some days it really has been hard to hang on. But I'm so happy that I have. Everyone has their own challenges--some of them are chosen, some of them are not, and some are sort of hand-picked at first but then end up being totally different than expected yet entirely nonreturnable once in their hand. I guess all of the experiences that have made up my law school career have felt like a good blend of all three of those things. Law school has shown me what my strengths and weaknesses are; it has shown me that some of what I thought were strengths are actually weaknesses; it has shown me that my limits are different than I thought they were; it has made me sometimes lose perspective, but has given me the ability to much more easily gain perspective when it sometimes gets lost. I love my law school experience, and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world (except for maybe some good cheesecake and a good permanent tan).

So goodbye semester number five. I'm glad that you are dead. But may you forever live on in spirit.

~It Just Gets Stranger