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Pirate dog

Bar Prep Is Officially Stressful

Studying for the bar exam is challenging. Balancing work and studying is brutal.

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.

Ruth is Stressed
This is what I posted on Facebook at 8am yesterday morning:

Dear God:

They say you don’t give us more than we can handle. Thank you for your faith in me to handle:
1. A high-stress job,
2. The California Bar Exam,
3. A car accident,
4. Questioning everything about my gender, and
5. A maternal figure [childhood gymnastics coach] with terminal cancer.

My hair was already turning gray without your help. Now, there are times I want to tear it out. [And I’ve shaved my head before.]

If you do anything to Rosie in the next year, I will fucking kill you.

Me

Photo by Roger Griggs

Needless to say, it’s pretty stressful in the Land of Ruth, and that was before the opposition filed an unexpected memo in one of my litigation cases. So, I spent the day writing our objection to that instead of working on the client work I currently have on my plate: drafting a motion for summary judgment, reviewing a client’s contract, drafting a custom contract for a professional creative, and submitting a demand for arbitration.

My day was hijacked. I planned to leave the office by 1pm to keep up on studying, but I didn’t settle in to watch the lecture on civil procedure until 4:45pm. This week will be the first time I’m officially behind on the Barbri schedule. I had to submit an answer for a performance test question (like writing a legal memo) for grading and I took way more than the recommended 90 minutes to do it. I hope I can catch up this weekend.

I got an extra fan for my office to keep me cool while studying. Rosie approves.

One of the challenges of bar prep is there are no days off. I can’t “push through” and do a late night tonight because I’ll set myself up to be too tired to work and study effectively tomorrow. There are no days off, so it’s best to be mindful of diet, exercise, sleep, and avoiding distractions each day.

Speaking of exercise, I miss it. For me, not exercising is not an option, except for times like now when I’m recovering from a car accident that messed up my neck and back. Running gives me the outlet I need to keep my stress in check. During my last bar prep, I ran, rode my bike, or did yoga every day. Thankfully, I’m finally feeling like my body is healing from this accident. I hope my doctor releases me to start jogging again soon.

Rob sent this photo from St. Petersburg. He said it’s the view of an Orthodox church and the Museum of the Battle of Leningrad taken from the café where he was studying.

Rob says Hello from Russia with Love
Rob-tastic is still across the pond, in St. Petersburg, Russia for the last week of his trip. He’s dealing with his own type of stress over there, as he said he hasn’t slept much in a few days because one of his roommates at the hostel, “snored like he was laying down suppressing fire.” He “coffee-zombied” through some studying, but mostly went sightseeing.

One thing Rob and I both noticed this week is that having experience doing litigation makes it easier to understand this subject – especially for Rob because he has experience in both Arizona and Federal Civil Procedure. (I only have experience litigating in state court.) It’s easier for him to differentiate between the two rule sets and understand the corresponding vocabulary.

Civil procedure was challenging for both of us in law school. Having real-life experience to draw from makes studying for this portion of the test less challenging than when we studied for the Arizona Bar Exam.

That’s all for this week. If you have any questions about what we’re doing or how we’re doing, leave it as a comment below. If you want to send us good vibes via snail mail, that’s always welcome – especially as our stress kicks up. Send us postcards at Ruth and Rob, c/o Venjuris P.C., 1938 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016. (If you have a friend taking a bar exam this summer, send them one too. They’ll appreciate the love.)

Long Days of Bar Prep – & Some Fun

One of my contacts at Barbri asked me how I’m managing to study and continue to practice law. The only phrase that came to mind was, “Not gracefully.”

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.

Presenting at Phoenix Comicon 2017.
Photo by K Royal, used with permission.

Busy Life of Bar Prep
I’ve never said that I was graceful or eloquent, and it becomes more apparent when I exist in a state of stress. My days are full, and even fuller than I originally expected because a few weeks before I started studying for the bar exam, I was in a car accident. So, instead of having a schedule of client work, studying, and exercise, I have client work, studying, chiropractic appointments, twice daily sessions of icing my back, communications with my attorney, and dealing with daily pain.

My days are long: up at 4:45am to walk and feed the pirate dog, ice my back, and get ready to be at the office by 9am, work until 2pm on client work and upcoming presentations, go to the chiropractor, get home by 3:30/4 to walk and feed the pirate dog, study for the bar exam, ice my back again, and hopefully be in bed by 10pm.

On the days I don’t have the chiropractor, I try to be out of the office by 1pm to do a longer day of studying. It’s comforting when I see that I’m ahead of the schedule set by Barbri. I try to stay about 5% ahead of where they say I should be.

One of my flaws is I’ll push too hard too fast and burn myself out. My tell-tale signs of stress are purple under my eyes from lack of sleep (“black eye syndrome”) and my tongue will have little groove marks along the edge from my teeth. I try to be careful not to stay up too late and whenever I feel stress taking a hold of me, I try to shake it off with a deep breath and think “I got this.”

Meeting the Minions!

Hurray for Phoenix Comicon
Thankfully, I got a respite from studying this past weekend at Phoenix Comicon where I spoke on two panels: Comic Creator Rights and Copyright and Fan Art/Fiction. It was wonderful to see and hug some of my friends, and the people watching was fantastic. There are some talented cosplayers in the Phoenix area. (No, I don’t dress up when I speak.) I was giddy happy when I got to meet the Minions. (Did I mention stress makes me more weird than I usually am?)

This was the last big thing on my calendar until the BlogHer conference in late June. I’ll still see some friends on occasion, but those will be special events for me. (It’s for the best. As I get more stressed, I get less tolerant of crowds, noise, and annoying things.)

Church in Budapest
Photo by Robert McGee, used with permission.

Rob on the Road
Yay Rob’s alive! After a successful INTA conference in Barcelona, Rob-tastic sends his best from Budapest where’s he’s alternating between studying California law and geeking out over the Hungarian architecture. Rob sent me an email and said, “The most difficult part of studying on the road so far is, predictably, the lack of books. Listening to the lectures and taking notes as I go is great, but I’m more of a visual learner than an auditory one. I did bring a book of outlines relevant to California law in particular, so I’m not totally without my preferred medium, but it limits my ability to review the bigger subjects.”

Rob’s doing the attorney’s course with the diagnostic pre-tests that gauge how much you recall from your last bar exam. He said these make it “easier to pinpoint the blank spots in your good subjects, while letting you know what your bad subjects are more efficiently. I dislike admitting when something is difficult for me, or when I don’t know something. It’s a character flaw. These tests don’t care, they’ll tell me exactly what I’m doing wrong with all the loving tenderness of a machine. It works.”

That’s all for this week. If you have any questions about what we’re doing or how we’re doing, leave it as a comment below. If you want to send us good vibes via snail mail, that’s always welcome. Send us postcards at Ruth and Rob, c/o Venjuris P.C., 1938 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016. (If you have a friend taking a bar exam this summer, send them one too. They’ll appreciate the love.)

Watching Rosie Thrive

My sweet basset hound, Rosie, celebrated her 9th birthday a few days ago. It’s been so much fun watching her regain her confidence this last year.

Rosie running with the kids in the neighborhood

Rosie Running with the Kids in the Neighborhood

When Rosie was 7, she developed glaucoma. She went from being a vivacious dog without any limits (except the inherent ones that come with having 5-inch legs) to being in tremendous pain and going blind in one eye. Our best option was to remove the eye, so my baby girl became a pirate dog. Glaucoma is a progressive disease, so to delay it from spreading to the other eye, we put her on three different eye drops. The medications keep the pressure in her remaining eye down, but they also limit her vision. When Rosie looks at the world now, it’s like she’s looking through a straw.

After her surgery, Rosie had stitches and was in a cone for 10 days before she could roam unencumbered again. She had to re-learn how to navigate, relying more on her sense of smell and being aware that she has a blindside.  On her first day out of the cone, I stood by while she got pummeled by Phoebe the bulldog who ran up on her on her blindside. I knew I wouldn’t be doing her any favors by coddling her, and I knew Phoebe running into her wouldn’t hurt her.

Working the Red Carpet at BlogPaws

Working the Red Carpet at BlogPaws

In the last year, Rosie has become more outgoing and playful than ever. When most people meet her, they don’t notice that she’s missing an eye. She runs around with the other dogs in the complex at full speed (and bassets can haul ass when motivated). At the office, she has no problem getting in/out of the car or waddling around to get pets or head out the backdoor when nature calls. When we’re in a new place, she’s more likely to hug the wall when we’re walking and to be more aware of where I am at all times.

Taking Rosie to the BlogPaws Conference was a highlight for both of us this summer. It was so cute to see her interacting with everyone – especially Bentley the basset hound who came from Louisiana with his human to attend. Watching those two run and bark together in the indoor dog park was so cute.

I’m excited to take Rosie to the AZ Basset Rescue Howl-o-ween picnic next weekend. There’s usually 30-50 dogs there, and it’s so much fun to watch them run as a pack with their little legs and flopping ears. She wasn’t super social last year, but I hope having another year to adjust to being a pirate dog and being back in the same event space as last year will help her be comfortable enough to let her rambunctious run free.

And in case you were wondering, Rosie is very grateful that I don’t believe in non-functional doggy fashion. No hot/annoying costume for her.

Rosie the Pirate: Beating the Odds

Rosie and I had an appointment with her puppy optometrist over the weekend – just a 6-month check-up to check her remaining eye. Rosie has been such a trooper since getting glaucoma and losing an eye last year. She’s on 3 medications – 5 eye drops a day, and she never fights or fusses about it.

Happy Rosie with her Stick - May 2016

Happy Rosie with her Stick – May 2016

We had a good appointment. The pressure in her eye was 9 (anything below 20 is good), and her current medication regimen seems to be working. The vet reminded me that glaucoma is a progressive disease, and it will be only a matter of time before the medications stop working. We can try other medications, but eventually she’ll lose the other eye.

Thankfully, Rosie is beating the odds. The vet said most dogs with glaucoma lose the second eye within a year of losing the first one. It’s been 14 months since her diagnosis, and her sight has been mostly unchanged. Of course, I’ve been super diligent about her medication – yes, she has a check sheet to track her meds each day.

When we travel, we always bring a cooler and stay in places that have a refrigerator in the room because one of her meds has to be refrigerated. We always bring her emergency glycerin in case she goes spontaneously blind. The glycerin has to be mixed with milk, so that means, even though I’m a mostly-vegan, there’s always a pint of milk in the house just in case Rosie needs it.

We’re lucky that Rosie can still see. Even when she goes blind I’ll still be dedicated to making her life awesome, but how we define “awesome” will probably change. If you want to see more of Rosie, follow her on Instagram.