Thursday, November 8, 2007

Birthday, Birthday Girl

Whee, I'm 25!

um, I can rent a car now? and my insurance rates are cheaper...

birthdays are pretty anticlimactic after 21, I think. Just heading out for a rrrrromantic fondue dinner (it IS romantic, TheMan proposed over fondue, for goodness sake) with my husband.

But every year, I make a birthday resolution. Sort of like my personal "new year," actually. In the past, it has been small changes, like 'floss every night before bed' and 'put on sunscreen every morning'. This year, in a fit of not having the brain power to think up more little things, I've landed on 'get butt to the gym at least 3 days per week.'

I sort of hate this resolution. Not because I think it's too much, but I'm chagrined that I've set myself so low a benchmark. I was a Division I athlete for goodness sake. I used to LIVE in the gym. Since graduation (3.5 years ago, ugh), I've set foot in the gym maybe 50 times total. I've become a lump, and I hate it. And I think year 25 is the perfect time for this change, I just hate that it is a CHANGE at all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Want, want, want

http://www.gethalo.com/

A vacuum that kills germs and mites and other grody stuff without funky chemicals (just UV light).

I have maybe never wanted a physical object more. I have definite vacuum lust.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How to pass the Virginia Bar Exam on your very first try

  • DO take PMBR's 6-day Course
  • DON'T let that course freak you out. It is designed to kick-start your studying, and to reinforce the fact that after 3 years of law school, you know pretty much nothing, and that you do, in fact, need to study for this Bar thing.
  • DO take BarBri courses. Preferably the Richmond BarBri, trust me on this one.
  • DON'T try to work and study for the Bar, if at all possible. Three solid months of non-stop grumpy studying will, if nothing else, give you the confidence to go in and show the Bar Examiners all that you know.
  • DO follow the schedule BarBri gives you. This way, you won't skimp on too many areas to make study room for the same subject over and over. If it's giving you fits, leave it be.
  • DON'T leave all your studying until the last minute. The guy sitting next to me, who was taking the test for the second time, told me he had studied "like, really hard, for like, two weeks, man." DON'T be this guy- his name wasn't on the pass list.
  • DO as many practice essays and multiple choice practice questions as you can. It is totally OK to refer to your notes as you go along.
  • DO listen to the PMBR CDs (especially if you, like me, have a dedicated hour commute one way to BarBri classes). Just replace your regular CD/radio time with those. The last thing you want is a Bananarama song stuck in your head during the exam.
  • DON'T change your study habits drastically for this test. It is hard, and it is long, but it is still a test. You know the study techniques that have been successful for you in the past (after all, you made it through law school somehow). Now is not the time to abandon the strategies that work for you. Personally, I made all my own flashcards from the BarBri lecture notes I took each day. Other friends who passed just made outlines. Bottom line- DO what works for you.
  • DON'T bother with PMBR's 3-day course (unless there are 2 weeks between the end of your BarBri and the exam). For me, it was just too close to the exam (I only had one "dead" week between the end of BarBri and the test itself, which I used to study the heck out of my own flashcards).
  • DO get your hotel reservations WAY in advance. Stay at least the night before the first and second days (if you can afford to stay after the second day is over, your drive home will be far less white-knuckled than mine).
  • DO bring your own breakfast to prepare in your hotel room. I was so glad to have brought my own oatmeal when I saw my hotel's excuse for continental breakfast get demolished by every other Bar Examinee.
  • DO get plenty of rest throughout the entire studying process. That extra hour of cramming contracts into your head at 12 am is not going to help as much as if you got that hour of sleep to refresh you. Same deal during the exam period- study a little the night before each session, but at some point, you need to set the books down, eat dinner, watch Little Miss Sunshine on HBO, and fall asleep.
  • DON'T PANIC. This is the very most important bit of advice I can give. Don't panic during study time, and certainly don't panic during the test. If you've followed your study schedule, you will be more than prepared for anything the Bar Examiners can throw at you. If you see something you don't know on the exam, DON'T let that rattle you. Breathe, relax, and let the answer come to you. Even if it never does, chances are nobody else understood the question either. Even if you get a softball of a question wrong, MOVE ON. Far better to not choke, and only get one question wrong, than to choke and get that question, plus a few others wrong in your panic.
  • Finally, Mom's sage wisdom. DO YOUR BEST.
I'll be happy to answer any other, more specific questions ya'll have, just let me know. Disclaimer: your mileage may vary. I obviously can't make any guarantees, but as advice goes, the above is the best I've got. I passed doing this crap, but you may or may not need something different. good luck.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

RESULTS

My name is on this list

http://www.vbbe.state.va.us/results.html


Thank you, God.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

OMIGOD

We just bought a house.

For real.

wow.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Approval

We're buying this one.

It'll be finished in April (which really means June).

Thank you, God.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Dear God,

I have two small favors to ask.

1. Please just let me have passed the Bar Exam.

2. Please don't let this mortgage lady tell us we can't afford this amazing townhouse.

Thank you, and Amen.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

ball o' nerves

Almost mid-October now...part of me wants an answer now, part of me doesn't ever want to know...

Everyone has been really, really nice about this whole bar thing- all "Of COURSE you passed, just don't worry", "I have a good feeling," et. cetera.

Honestly, the most comforting thing anyone has said to me in the last week was my boss: "It's OK to be freaked out of your mind. We've all been there. There is no way not to worry about it."

The happy thoughts are nice, keep 'em coming, but I can't make my hopeful-yet-pessimistic brain believe them.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Still waiting...

The waiting is, indeed, the hardest part (thank you, o wise Mr. Petty).

I'll supposedly find out in a few weeks whether my name is on the Dear Lord, Thank You list or the Sorry, Try Again list.

My heart broke weeks ago for my friend in North Carolina who learned she was going to have to give their Bar Exam another try. She's a pretty smart cookie (and their exam is supposedly easier than Virginia's) so I'm even more anxious than I would have been otherwise.

Anyone else besides Virginia still waiting on Bar Exam results?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

fun times

you guys.

we got a Wii.

it is the most fun thing ever.

it is almost enough fun to distract me from the fact that the Virginia Bar results won't be posted until MID-OCTOBER (grrr.).

Friday, September 7, 2007

A question...

Is it a big, bad, scary, take.him.to.the.vet.now thing that my cat snores, basically all the time? Its been going on a while now, but sometimes (like when he's REALLY asleep) it gets really cartoony (hoooonk, pheeeeew).

TheMan doesn't think it's a big deal, but my overly anxious nature is ready to research tiny kitty-sized sleep apnea machines...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Overheard in my apartment

"I really want to get The Shins' CD"

"Oh, I almost picked that up when I was at Target the other day, since it was only like, $10, and plus, I really tend to like bands with a 'the' at the beginning of their names."

"..."

"You know, The Beatles, The Donnas, The Fratellis, The Clash..."

"Wow, babe. Rolling Stone is really missing out on this musical theory. They should totally hire you."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Not dead, just busy busy busy

busy busy busy, so narrative structure be damned...

Post bar exam spa trip was wonderful, but was during the hottest 2 days of the summer (heat index of 115 both days). The first day, we were so determined to make the most of our time there, we were literally the only ones out on the resort's tennis courts in the middle of the afternoon. Poor TheMan was out playing golf in the hot hot heat on the second day while I spa'd and lounged by the pool. Several adult beverages were consumed, and a merry ole' time was had by all.

While the spa was delightful while I was getting mah treatments, I have to say I think the whole thing is a bit of a rip off (except for pedicure, and maybe the eyebrow wax, dear God, why did no one tell me how much easier that is than pluck pluck plucking my (blonde) unibrow away?). 2 days after an $80 facial, my pores re-gunked themselves and I look exactly the same; my manicure chipped the very next day... BUT I'm not complaining, it WAS super relaxing in the moment, which was just what I needed before...

MY FIRST DAY OF WORK, which was also awesome. We have confirmed DreamJob status, and I'm really excited to start bigger projects and cases :) For obvious reasons (not the least of which is that I really don't want to be FIRED), I'm not going to talk a lot about my job here, just know that it is very fun and rewarding (and I might even be good at it!).


OK, so not actually a lot of news fit to print at the moment. Stay tuned to see if my life gets any more fun.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

hooray!

Just found out I'll be with the division I wanted at DreamJob! Hoorayyyy!!!

Also, I have my very own fish, already in the office and waiting for me to start (he's being tended to by Favorite Coworker until I get there)- a Red Beta fish named J├╝rgen Habermas (a reference to TheMan's grad school days, when he declared Habermas his "buddy").

Monday, July 30, 2007

back to normal, with some help

slowly, slowly, I can feel myself coming back. The me of the days before bar prep- the me who laughed easily and rarely said "no, I can't."

It is taking me longer than I expected to come back to myself. As much as this enrages the feminist in me, part of this is because TheMan wasn't home until Saturday. The three days I was alone after the exam, I walked around the empty apartment like a zombie, going through the motions of cleaning, making dinner, still carrying the weight of the test everywhere I went.

As we sat at dinner after I picked him up at the airport, I felt the layers of stress and tension peel off of me. I looked across the table and saw my husband again- my friend, not just that guy who insisted I leave my desk and go eat something.

It's a rather humbling revelation, to know that I can't even get back to being "me" on my own. Just like that old Beatles song, I get by with a little help from my friends (just, um, human friends, not pills)...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

now, back to our regularly scheduled life, already in progress

phew. it's over.

I don't really know how to feel. It's the strangest mix of relief and apprehension and hope couched with caution. I do know that I never, ever want to have to go through that again (but I won't know if I have to until OCTOBER. That long of a wait is just cruel.) But, for now at least, it's over. So, onward!

Driving home last night was probably not the best idea I've ever had, but somehow I made it safely back to the Nest (which was, unfortunately, empty except for the cats). TheMan had to leave for a business trip the morning of the second day of the exam, and won't be home until Saturday. Let me tell you, it is pretty anticlimactic to battle your way through exhaustion on the 4 hour drive home, open the door, say "I'm DONE" and only be heard by creatures whose grasp of the english language is limited to "tuna."

Back to a normal person life, one in which I am not studying in some fashion for more than ten hours a day...... Um, can someone remind me what I did before bar prep? What is this "normal life" and where can I buy one? Because at the moment, I am kind of at a loss as to what to do with myself. Maybe I'm just flummoxed by the bevy of options at my disposal. I could go shopping, guilt free! I could clean the Nest, guilt free! I could clear off the TIVO, guilt free! Wheeeeee! My life is so exciting, I'm looking forward to cleaning. sad.

Insert witty segue here.

For the tea party with TheMan the Sunday before the bar exam, I wimped out (as per TheMan's express instructions), and did one of the easiest treats I possibly could, Double chip cookies. For those of you playing along at home, it's a pretty simple formula.
1. buy two bags of your preferred chocolate/peanut butter/white chocolate chips (we used a combo of dark and white chocolate chips, but other pairings would work just as well)
2. make the cookie dough per the instructions on the back of the bag. the only minor deviation I must wholeheartedly encourage is to double the vanilla. no matter what lovely baked good you concoct, always double the vanilla in the recipe- it will magically render the final product extra delicious.
3. instead of putting only one bag of chips into the dough, put two whole bags in. (yes, I am an innovator, people. my creativity knows no bounds)
4. bake according to the back of the bag's instructions.

tada, one of the easiest (second only to the beloved Rice Krispie Treat) Tea Party treat is born.

Better treats to come next week, as I get this back to real life thing on track...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Southern comfort

the other day (ok, it was a while ago), the strangest thing happened.

TheMan and I were walking out to the car from the grocery store, laden with bags but generally in good spirits, chatting with each other, as you do when you're happily married and young(ish) and cool like we are.

Another young(ish) couple was exiting their car and walking in the general direction of going into the grocery store, and they were talking to one another. As we passed them, the woman looked me straight in the face and said with total sincerity, "Be not afraid, God loves you."

And the weirdest part about this unsolicited comment from a total stranger? I wasn't weirded out in the least. Usually anyone discussing religion in a personal belief way is uncomfortable for me. Honestly, I tend to feel like a person's relationship with God (or their preferred higher power) is their personal relationship and shouldn't be imposed upon by anyone. But I found myself comforted by this stranger's words, the exact opposite reaction I would have ever expected of myself.

Maybe I'm becoming a real Virginian after all...

finally over

i just got home from taking the bar exam (yesterday and today).

i'm going to lay down and die now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

patient zero

Remember how TheMan came home siiiick the other day?

Took 2 days to show up in me. Great.

Did I mention there are 6 days until the bar exam?

Did I further mention that TheMan used all the good meds? (Seriously - and here is where I am a bad liberal - just because some jerk is making meth out of it, does that really mean I have to suffer with the new! improved! formula that doesn't work even half as well?)

Grrr. Sick + stress inducing test lurking = crabbbbby.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tea Party

There's a new tradition in the Lark Nest.

Sundays, I make some delicious treat, and TheMan and I sit down together after dinner and sample the delights with some fancy tea (from England, even! Thanks, TheMan's Mom!). It's the most fun I've had since I was 6.

Here are the things I've made so far, complete with all you need to play along at home!

Last Week's recipe (a moderately healthy almond berry tart from Eating Well magazine)

This Week's recipe (an astoundingly delicious but not very healthy cookie, and no link because for whatever reason, MarthaStewart.com doesn't have it listed, although I found it in the "cookie of the month" page (June, 2007, page 244) of her delightful Martha Stewart Living magazine).

Biscuit Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients:
1 c. all purpose flour (+ some for dusting)
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 c. + 1 tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 oz. melted finely chopped milk chocolate, or 1/2 c. chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella) (*I used the Nutella, and lo, it was delicious)
You'll also need some parchment paper (*I used regular ole' waxed paper and it came out just fine)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pulse flour sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With machine running, pour 1/4 cup cream and vanilla and process until dough just comes together.
  3. Roll dough between lightly floured sheets of parchment until 1/16 inch thick. (*The thinner the better for these.) Using a 2 1/2 inch fluted cutter, cut out 36 rounds gathering together scraps and rerolling if needed. (*I had no such cutter and just dipped a water glass in flour and used that) Space 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Chill in freezer until firm, about 15 mins.
  4. Wisk together egg yolk and remaining tbsp. cream. Brush onto tops of cookies.
  5. Bake until golden brown 15-20 mins. Let cool.
  6. Turn over half the cookies and spread 1 heaping tsp chocolate onto each. Top with remaining cookies. Refrigerate until set, about 15 mins. Good for 2 days.

Monday, July 16, 2007

danger danger

TheMan just came home from work early. He's siiiiiick.

8 days before the bar. Break out the hospital masks.

Lady Luck

I'm one of the lucky ones.

I landed the DreamJob a week before graduation, and while it does not exactly pay the DreamBucks, neither is it dependent on my passing the bar exam. I can be confident that this is true DreamJob love and not OhMahGawdINeedAJob love, since it came as a result of a DreamInternship. DreamJob is in the relatively small area of law where I hoped to practice when law school still seemed like it was really going to be fun (read: before law school started). I am absolutely one of the lucky ones.

But! Of course I can still find something to whine about, because lo, I am awesome. I still don't know which division I'll be assigned to. (yes, I realize that last sentence is grammatically incorrect, let's just blame it on bar prep and move on.) I'm hoping it will be where I was during DreamInternship, because my supervisor and coworkers were hands down the best I have ever had. They are a significant reason DreamJob is all that it's cracked up to be. There, I know what is expected of me. But, there is a possibility I'll be assigned Elsewhere. Elsewhere is still very good, still within that tiny scope of law I'm so obsessed with, but different boss, different coworkers, different expectations. Elsewhere makes me nervous about my first day, DreamInternship makes me feel in control. (and hey, have I mentioned once or twice that I like control?)

So really, embarrassment of riches. Either way, I'm exactly where I hoped to be coming out of law school.

I am absolutely one of the lucky ones. I can't wait to find out where I land.

apatment

we're feeling trapped, TheMan and I.

Don't get me wrong, our apartment is lovely, spacious even. We've put a lot of crap in it, so its hard to tell sometimes, but it is a pretty good size, in all honesty. And since we've lived here a while, we've gotten spoiled and it is cheap.

But we have outgrown our Nest. But there is no way out. With housing prices and my school loans, it will be more than 3 years before we've saved enough to jump into a house. Still doesn't change the fact that I want a yard. I want to be able to tear down the stupid wall and open up the kitchen. I want to be able to redo the bathroom grout if it's too old and gross for my taste. I want to rip out the 80's timeshare cabinets and lumpy linoleum. I want to paint a damned wall. I am tired of all the white, and of searching every design magazine for (cheap) ways to add color! without a drop of paint! (go ahead and google that, there are approximately 6 ways, and I have tried them all). I am tired of calling the design magazines vlugar names when they promise a cheap and easy redecoration strategy and only offer paint! as a solution.

So the next 3 years are about making the most of what we've got, turning on the suzy sunshine in me to full strength, and turning these lemons into lemonade.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

10 days

In ten days, I'll be sitting in an expansive room in the Roanoke Civic Center, along with everyone else who wants to be a Virginia Lawyer.

I have a stack of flashcards leaning Pisa-style on my desk. I have resigned myself to the idea that there is no way I will be able to learn it all. This realization makes my very type-A self royally annoyed.

I've done my best these past eight weeks...let's just hope it will be enough to make me a better test taker than 30% of my fellow masochists.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It's like I think I invented "health"

So I decided, enough.

Enough with the "diet."

Time to use my (educated, adult) brain, and think a little about what is actually healthy to be putting into my body as fuel.

Because while the low carby diets may work quickly (at least in terms of numbers on the scale), I have to think maybe all that fat isn't good for my heart. And you really can't expect me to believe that sugar free ice cream is better for me than a banana.

I managed to fool myself that way for a while, because the numbers on the scale told me so. Look, I must be healthy, numbers are getting smaller! Except other important numbers were getting bigger. And really, it seems like blood pressure and cholesterol trump the numbers on the scale.

So I say enough. Time to eat the way I know is good for me, makes me feel good in my body, not just how someone with a book tells me I should.

Also, time to get some good running shoes and hit the road. Because I've really just had enough.