The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

Ruth Carter

Thoughts about the Fire . . .

Recently, area around my hometown was hit hard by wildfires – the worst reported in California history. Over 5,700 structures burned and at least 40 people lost their lives. People on site said it was like a bomb went off.

For about 5 days, I watched the updates from inside the fire zone – both the official reports and the personal stories of the people who lost everything and those did what they could to help their neighbors. (Special hat tip to the Wilking Way crew who stayed behind after the evacuation order to protect their neighborhood with your own water truck. You are an inspiration.)

I love this photo of Jeff and me. Photo by Brandon Larkin. (Creative Commons License)

I wondered what I would grab if I were ordered to evacuate, knowing that anything I left behind could be destroyed. As I looked around my little condo, I knew I would grab my laptop, my passport, my dog, our medications, and not much more.

I don’t feel emotionally attached to my possessions. They’re just things. Many of them make life more comfortable, but it’s nothing that can’t be replaced.

I am not my stuff.

Memories don’t live in sentimental items.

People and actions matter more than things.

 

Coming Out Day: Queer and Non-Binary

I am queer and non-binary. I used to identify as bisexual, but now I use the umbrella term “queer” since I can be attracted to any gender. Since I’m “non-binary,” meaning I don’t identify as a man or a woman, it would be contradictory to identify as “bisexual” since I don’t believe that gender is a binary concept. Sometimes I use the term “non-gendered,” since I often feel like I don’t have a gender. (Gender is a social construct, completely separate from a person’s biological sex.) I also use “gay,” as a catch-all term for non-heterosexual people, even though others use it to exclusively describe men who have sex with men.

Rainbow by Benson Kua from Flickr

Gender and sexual orientation each have their own spectrum, and I’m somewhere in the middle on both.

I don’t have a box, a stereotype to which I’m expected to conform or even suggested guidelines like those that come with identifying as a “man,” “woman,” “heterosexual,” or “homosexual.” It’s both freeing and frightening to live without such limits.

In honor of National Coming Out Day, I decided to respond to the common statements and questions my friends have heard in response to coming out:

What made you gay?
Nothing made me queer. It’s just what I am. What made you straight?

How did you know you were queer?
When I realized my female peers didn’t think about women the same way I do.

When did you decide to be non-binary?
Again, this wasn’t a decision. I’ve never felt like being a man or a woman was right for me.

Photo by Roger Griggs

How does that work?
Could you be a bit more specific?

It’s just a phase.
Thirty-eight years is a long time for a phase.

You’re just confused.
I’m often confused about a lot of things, including how to best present myself, but I have no doubts about who or what I am.

Have you always been like this?
Yup.

Are you sure?
Yes. Trust me, I wouldn’t have come out if I wasn’t sure.
The only person who could get away with asking this question was my grandmother, because, well, she was old. Bless her heart.

How do you know?
How do you know what gender you are? How do you know what people you find attractive? Some things you just know.

Photo by Jason Hahn

I don’t want you to get AIDS.
Me neither.

What are your pronouns?
In general, if you’re using pronouns to refer to me, there’s a good chance I’m not there to hear you. I don’t care what pronouns you use as long as you’re respectful. When speaking to me, I prefer “sir” over “ma’am,” and a gender-neutral title instead of “Mr.” or “Ms.”

Can’t you just pick one gender to be attracted to?
Some people are only attracted to people with light or dark-colored hair. Others are potentially attracted to a person with any color of hair. Likewise, some people are only attracted to people with a penis or a vagina. For me, a person’s genitals is not a deal-maker or breaker in deciding whether I find them attractive.

Bisexuals are greedy and promiscuous.
Sounds like you’re jealous.

So, you want to have sex with everyone.
No. There’s a big difference between being potentially attracted to a person of any gender and wanting to bang everyone.

Oh, so you had a crush on me in high school, right? (From a female friend)
Absolutely not.
BTW – If an LGBTQ person hits on you, take it as a compliment, even if you don’t reciprocate their feelings. It’s not a big deal if everyone’s respectful.

How do you have sex when there is no penis involved?
There are lots of ways to be intimate when a penis is not a key player. Do we need to take you back to Sex 101?

Photo by Leslie Easton Photography

So, does that mean you [sex act]?
Woah there, Pooh Bear. Unless I’m sleeping with you, the details of my sex life are none of your business.

Are you the man or the woman in relationships?
That’s like asking which chopstick is the fork.

Does your family know?
Yup. And if they didn’t, they haven’t been paying attention.

Is it because your dad didn’t show you affection?
What?? No.

This is probably because your mom was too overbearing.
<sigh> No.

Do you know my friend, Chris? They’re gay.
The LGBTQ community may be less than 10% of the population, but that’s still a lot of people. We don’t all know each other.
But how cool would that be?

That makes sense.
A lot of things clicked when I realized what I am.

Life is going to be a lot more difficult now.
Probably. But I’d rather be authentic than pretend to be someone I’m not.

Have you ever been fired for being gay?
Thankfully no, but in Arizona, I could be.

I love you anyway.
That’s one word too long.

Do you really have to tell everyone? Shouldn’t you keep that private?
Why would I? That would be like telling a man to tone down his masculinity, or telling a straight couple to stop holding hands. My sexual orientation and gender have little impact on most people’s lives.

So, there you go. If you’re still curious about my sexual orientation or gender, including my coming out stories, check out my episode of The Out House podcast.

What Am I

I’m training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in 2018. When I do my long run for the week, I prefer to listen to podcasts instead of music. It’s easier to be distracted from the pain I’m inflicting on myself and find a rhythm with 30-minute episodes rather than 3-minute songs.

Recently I’ve used my training to catch up on the podcast Unthinkable, hosted by Jay Acunzo. I met Jay in 2016 when we were both speakers at Content Marketing World where he spoke about how being different leads to success in business. I always get something good out of every episode.

Be an Authority
This run started with his interview with marketing consultant, author, and speaker Robert Rose. Robert says he prefers to be called an “authority” rather than an “expert,” in part because the words “authority” has the root “author.” An expert knows a subject, but an author created it. I love this! I am absolutely stealing this for two reasons:

  1. I love the idea of being an authority on social media law (I did write the book on this stuff), and
  2. The State Bar doesn’t allow lawyers to call themselves “specialists” unless you’ve been certified through their process. This gets around that issue.

Be an Exception
Jay says, “To be exceptional, you have to be an exception.” Statements like this remind me that it’s ok to be me, and when I embrace and run with my unconventional ideas, things tend to work out. And I don’t do what I do just to be weird, but because it’s what works for me. I’m just being me. When I try to fit into someone else’s box is when things go sideways.

Jay is all about intuition. He highlights people who are successful because they trusted their gut. They ask the right questions and find the answers from within. I believe in this too. My gut feeling is never wrong – sometimes inaccurate, but never wrong. I know when I’m going with my gut, I’m doing what’s in alignment with who I am.

What Am I?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been mulling over this question. It started back in September when I saw my friend, Ari Kaplan, speak at ASU Law School about making opportunities for yourself. I don’t know what Ari said, but it inspired me to write, “I’m an artist” in my notebook.

When it comes down to the basics, I think that’s what I am. I’m a writer, a musician, a creator. I’m happiest when I’m creating, learning, sharing, and when what I do makes a difference.

Looking to the future, I can picture myself taking music lessons and going to ballet classes (in male attire with Rocky’s leg warmers). I also see myself zipping around on my orange skateboard and learning how to be a survivalist (not that I like camping, but I bet it’s handy stuff to know). Being a lawyer pays the bills, but more and more, I accept that this is what I do. It’s not who I am.

For now, I’m putting more energy into being creative. On the wall where I put my to-do items on sticky notes, I added one that says, “Just Write.” When I saw Ann Handley speak at Content Marketing World, she inspired me to devote time to writing every day, even if no one ever sees it. And I’m listening to more music, pulling from my entire iTunes library, and not just my race day playlist.

Running Notes: Marathon Training, September 2017

As I said after the bar exam, I’m back to pounding pavement and training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Arizona 2018. This time around, I’m hired a coach – David Roher – who gives me my running assignment every week and monitors my progress. I also pepper him with questions about diet and nutrition.

For my previous races, I used the Hal Higdon program, but given my chest pains and heart issues with my last marathon (where I DNFed), I decided having more personalized attention would be best.

I’ve been training with Coach David for 6 weeks, and so far every week I get to 3 runs: 1 sprint, 1 race pace, and 1 jog. I wanted to share some thoughts from last week’s runs:

Why am I so tired? Oh yeah – I ran 10 miles this morning.

Sprint – 1.5 Miles
As a gymnast, the furthest I had to sprint was 72.5 feet down the vault runway. This is not that kind of sprinting. The goal is to run as fast you can and sustain for the whole distance. Finding my sprint pace has been a challenge; I keep starting out too fast. I figured the best way to make myself run at a consistent pace would be to use a treadmill – aka the human hamster wheel. So last week when I was in Cleveland for Content Marketing World, I made myself do my sprint on a treadmill in my hotel.

I’m not a fan of the human hamster wheel, but I set the machine for 7.2mph, and ~12 minutes later, I was done.  While I dislike running in place, I hope it gave my muscles an experience of running at that pace that I can replicate in the real world.

Race Pace – 6.2 Miles
I did this run in Cleveland too. In Phoenix, the sky is starting to lighten by 5:30am. Not so much in Cleveland. It was dark, raining, and 54 degrees outside. Thankfully the rain mostly subsided in the first mile, and I put my contacts in so I could see where I was going more clearly. I’m near-sighted so I don’t really need lenses to run, but I think it makes me feel more secure, especially in an unfamiliar part of the city.

I mapped out my run on Google Maps the night before, but according to Strava, I ran 6.5 miles instead of 6.2, and at a faster pace (9:05/mile) than my previous race pace run (9:30/mile). Perhaps it’s easier to run faster when it’s 54 degrees outside than 84 degrees.

Jog – 10 Miles
Speaking of 84 degrees, that’s how hot it was when I started my 10-mile run at 6:30am. For the long run, my instructions are to just finish, preferably without walking. This was my first double-digit run, and to be honest, I was a bit nervous about whether I had the stamina for this distance. Remember, I’ve only been running for 6 weeks after taking a nearly 3 month running hiatus due to my car accident.

I picked a route that took me up into a desert park and around Tempe Town Lake, so I’d at least have beautiful surroundings. And since I started so late, I got to see lots of boaters and people walking their dogs at the lake – at least when I wasn’t blinded by the sweat dripping into my eyes.

It was a hard run, including hills in the last two miles. But putting one foot in front of the other, I finished with an average 11:11/mile pace and I didn’t walk. It was a win for me.

As far as I know, my plan is to do three runs a week and working my muscles every day with stretching, foam roll, and The Stick. I have no idea what my assignment will be one week to the next. Coach David decides it based on the previous week’s performance – he monitors my progress thanks to my data on Strava.

This week’s assignment: 1.5-mile spring, 6.2 miles at race pace, and a 12-mile jog. I’m so glad it’s finally starting to cool off in the desert.

Being Non-Binary in a Binary World

One of the most challenging things about being non-binary is when I’m reminded that I live in a society that was not created for people like me.

Photo by Roger Griggs

Non-Binary Travel
There are everyday occurrences where there isn’t a gender neutral option. I cringe every time I hear someone call me “ma’am.” (Growing up on Star Trek, I’ve always preferred “sir.”) When I check into a hotel, the front desk clerk only has Mr. or Ms. to choose from in deciding how to address me. (If you don’t know me well, you don’t know that I have a doctorate degree.)

And let me tell you how much fun it is dealing with the TSA. I almost always set off the spinny-go-round scanner, usually on places where there’s no metal on my clothes. When I tell the female-identified TSA agent that I’m not a woman or a man, the supervisor has to get involved before I’m patted down and sent on my way.

Recently, one TSA supervisor asked which gender I was presenting as, and I honestly answered, “Neither.” (She was nice and politely asked me some questions as I put my sneakers back on about how to address someone who is non-binary. She said she’d never met a non-binary person before.) At another airport, a supervisor tried to tell me that I had to pick a gender, man or woman, for the purposes of the pat down, and I refused. At that same airport, the supervisor asked who I wanted to pat me down, and I said I wanted a non-binary person, or a gay person. They had neither, so I said, “Whomever is most comfortable doing it.”

Yes, I could avoid issues with the TSA by letting them think I’m female, but they need to remember that not everyone fits into their binary system. And I can handle the interaction, even though it’s stressful and exhausting.

I call this my ” gay mafia” picture.
Photo by Roger Griggs

Shopping for a Suit
I shrunk out of my suit years ago, but since I rarely have to wear it, I haven’t replaced it yet. Lately, I’ve wanted to replace it with a gray three-piece men’s suit – with real pockets in the pants and blazer. It’s hard to find a women’s suit that fits me with my muscular shoulders, long torso, and abnormally short limbs. (When I get petite length pants, I still need to get them shortened about 2 inches, when I’m wearing heels – and I’m 5’4”.) And besides that, I’m tired of blazers and pants that don’t have any functional pockets.

A major department store was having a sale, and their website showed that they had what I wanted. The clerk didn’t bat an eye that I wanted a men’s suit, but he apologetically said that he didn’t have anything that would fit me. He slipped a size 36S blazer on me, and he was right – the shoulders were too big. (With men’s suits, you fit the shoulders and tailor everything else.) They didn’t even have dress shirts I could wear. I have a 14-inch neck, but only need a 30-inch sleeve. The shortest length they carried was 32.

The clerk suggested I visit the boys’ department. He said I would probably wear a size 18 or 20, and he warned me that my shirt color options would be limited to blue, black, and white, and if I wanted a suit with a vest, I’d probably have to wait until Easter. The shirts and blazers in the boys’ department mostly fit, but they still didn’t feel right.

Thankfully, I have a friend who gets all his suits and dress shirts custom made by a tailor in Vegas. He said he’d give me their name. I hope he wasn’t lying when he said they weren’t that much more expensive than buying off the rack.

Life After the Bar Exam

We’re home! It’s so good to be back from the California Bar Exam and getting back to “normal” life . . . slowly.

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

My beautiful Rosie dog and the Wall of Pain.

Back to the Grind
Rob and I took Friday and the weekend off, but then we were both back in the office on Monday. We each had at least a week’s worth of emails of non-critical client messages to read. I spent at least an hour re-populating the infamous Wall of Pain in my office with all the tasks I need to do for current and prospective clients.

We’ve been busy since we got back been back. Besides client work, we also get to get back to doing other professional tasks, like networking, writing blog posts, developing new CLEs and other products, and applying for speaking engagements for next year. There were a lot of things I had to put on the back burner while we were studying.

Although we are grateful for Barbri helping us prepare for the California Bar Exam, we hope we never have to read another Barbri book.

So Much Free Time
A few days before the bar exam, I remember looking at Rob and asking, “What did we do before bar prep?” We’d been studying for so long, I’d forgotten what it was like to have evenings and weekends where I wasn’t studying.

Now that we’re done, we have time to see friends, go to the movies, sleep in, and do . . . whatever we want. Rob-tastic is a home brewer, and he said he wants to start two batches of beer and a batch of mead this month, and he said he’s getting back to weightlifting. I signed up to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona marathon in January 2018, so I’m getting back into running.

Oh yeah, and we still have to do Character and Fitness for California.

Cleaning House
One thing we both said we wanted to do when we got home was clean our respective apartments. Rob says his Barbri books are scattered all over his apartment. “It’s hard to go somewhere without being within arm’s reach of one of my books,” he said. We did the bare minimum while we were studying, but now we have time to deep clean our homes. I’ve never had a stronger desire to mop my floor and clean the baseboards. I want dust everything I own.

Mush for Brains
One of the challenges of recovering from the bar exam is sometimes our brains go to mush. Our mental stamina isn’t all the way back yet. When I get home from the office, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch a movie, whereas before bar prep, I’d respond to emails and write blog posts in the evening. Even in the office, I can’t work for hours without a break. This week, I’ve needed more breaks to breathe, take my eyes off my screen and documents, and walk around the office for a few minutes before going back to work. Yesterday, I told my friend my brain felt like scrambled eggs – rubbery and tasteless.

It’s good to be home and getting back to “normal.”

We’re Done with the Bar Exam

The first rule of the bar exam is you don’t talk about the test after the test.
The second rule of the bar exam is you don’t talk about the test after the test.

Having said that, Rob and I are done with the California Bar Exam.
We gave it our all. We feel good about what we did. We hope it’s enough.
We’ll find out in about 4 months.

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

Off to Ontario!

Last Minute Studying
We flew into Ontario, California on Sunday afternoon. We spent Sunday afternoon and most of Monday alternating between meals and studying – reviewing our notes one last time. On Monday, we also took a walk over to the Ontario Convention Center so we’d know where we needed to be on Tuesday.

I didn’t study at all on Tuesday morning. I didn’t want to freak myself out heading into the test. Either we knew it, or we didn’t, and I was surprised by how many people brought notes to breakfast.

Last few hours of studying

California vs Arizona Bar Exams
We’re not discussing the contents of the bar exam. (I was annoyed with anyone who talked about the test after the test.) While we were waiting to go in for the second session on the first day, people were talking about the exam, and I muttered, “No no no no no…talk about puppies, clowns, or anything” to Rob who obliged me.

Thousands of people took the California Bar Exam at our testing center. Rob and I couldn’t figure out how testing numbers were assigned. We were seated a row apart even though our last names are half the alphabet away from each other. It was nice to give each other a high five before each session.

Unlike Arizona, we did not have to be wanded down before we walked into the testing room, and we were required to bring our own writing implements. We could also bring in pillows, lumbar support cushions, and foot rests if we so desired on the essay day. (Yes, we saw a handful of people walk in with pillows.)

Celebratory beverages: IPA for Rob, club soda for me

One-Day Test for Me
I’m so grateful I only had to take the essay portion of this bar exam. Those of us taking the one-day test had a green dot on our name tags and at our assigned seats. There were a handful of us near my assigned seat. I saw at least four green dot seats where the person didn’t show up. We wondered what would make someone sign up for the bar exam and then back out. I hope none of them were in a car accident on the way to the test. Rob and I couldn’t fathom the idea of signing up and not seeing this through.

Glad to be Done
It feels great to be done. We’re looking forward to going home, seeing our friends, and doing the things that we haven’t had a chance to do since early May.

We’ll check in again to let you know how life after bar prep is going, and probably not again until after we get results. Of course, I’ll keep writing about thoughts and activities in my life here on The Undeniable Ruth.

Final Days of Bar Prep

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel . . . and it’s not an oncoming train!

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

Going to the Bar Exam!

The California Bar Exam is less than a week away. Rob and I have our admission tickets and ExamSoft on our laptops (it’s the software we use for the test that locks us out of the rest of our computer), and I have M&Ms for our flight crews and Jolly Ranchers for test day. (It’s tradition, just got with it.) I also had a custom running shirt made for the bar exam that says “I Beat the Kobayashi Maru.”

(Rob says he doesn’t have any lucky charms, but he carries his ornate pocket knife – not his everyday pocket knife – for things like this. But, of course, we can’t carry weapons onto the airplane or into the bar exam.)

I’ve heard the Ontario Convention Center is historically freezing cold during the bar exam. Since Rob run warm and I don’t, I suspect on test day he’ll be comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt while I’ll be shivering while doing an impression of Kenny from South Park, or at least I would if I were allowed to put the hood up on my Scottevest.

1,000+ Barbri flash cards

Last Days of Studying
At this point, our job is to maximize retention of information. Over the last month, I turned all 15 Barbri lecture outlines into flash cards – over 1,000 of them. Each day, I review several sets of them, trying to lock in as much information as I can. There will be 5 essay questions on the test, and the only topic I can predict will be on there is Professional Responsibility.

Sometimes I like to walk when I review my cards, and since it’s blazing hot in the afternoon in Phoenix, I took my flash cards for a walk at Scottsdale Fashion Square. With earbuds in my ears and my eyes focused on the cards in my hands, no one paid me much mind. The clerk at the Lovesac shop was a bit confused when I walked in, jumped into a Lovesac, muttered through my Evidence cards to myself, and left without saying a word.

Rob-tastic’s reviewing his materials as well. As he goes through practice MBE questions, he said he has to remember to go strictly on the information given, and avoid implying outside information. He’s continuing to go through essay questions as well.

We got this.

We Know Stuff
Even when we’re somewhat overwhelmed by the volume of information we might be tested on, we definitely know stuff. Yesterday, we were easily spit balling back and forth the various rules that are different in California compared to the Federal rules, common law, or the model rules. This is a test where I’m not sure it’s possible to feel completely prepared, but we’re ready to go in and say something effective on every issue. That’s probably the most we can ask of ourselves.

As our Barbri instructors reminded us, we only have to get a D- on a test that’s graded on a curve. We don’t need the highest scores; we just need to pass.

Calling on Higher Powers
Not that I’m not above calling upon divine powers. At least thirty of my friends are actual reverends and pastors or at least ordained online. I’m not a religious person, but I called on all of them to send good vibes. The response was waves of love from officially recognized churches, including Christian, Wiccan, and Pagan, and some I didn’t know existed, including several blessing from The Church of the Dude.

We’ll take all the good vibes we can get. We’ll see you on the flip side!
Good luck to everyone taking a bar exam next week!

Bar Prep is Scrambling our Brains

One of my best friends is a fellow lawyer, and she’s pregnant with her first child. We had breakfast this week where we decide “pregnancy brain” and “bar brain” are remarkably similar.

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

We still find reasons to smile.

Brain Cramps
Rob and I are so distracted with studying that we suck at remembering mundane things lately. This past Monday, Rob packed is lunch for the office, and promptly left it at home. Likewise, I went to the office and left my cell phone and the power cord for my laptop at home. Later that day, I was giving the senior litigator an update on an ongoing matter. I told him that we granted the opposition an extension to submit their response to our motion, and he asked when our reply would be due. My brain cramped and went completely blank. The only thing I could say was, “Ask Amiee.” (Amiee’s our paralegal who does all of our docketing and sends us weekly reports with due dates for all our pending cases.)

I’m grateful for alarms, email reminders, and Sharpie pens. They make it possible for me to remember anything lately. The night before I had breakfast with my friend, I wrote her name on the back of my hand so when I woke up, I wouldn’t forget our date. I told myself that when I become an adult, I’ll stop writing on my hand.

Every little bit helps.

Study Study Study
Most of our time is devoted to studying right now. We’re staying on top of our client work, but putting off everything that can wait until after the bar exam.

The rule about the bar exam, is you don’t have to get an A. We have to get at least a D-, and it’s a test that’s graded on a curve. All we have to do is pass. Right now, we’re doing what we have to do to pass.

Rob-tastic seems to be focused mostly on the MBE subjects and starting to circle back to the subjects he watched early on in his bar prep. My energy is going into making flash cards. Making and reviewing them are the best way I know to memorize all the rules and tests. I think I’ve made over 700 cards so far. By the time I turn every Barbri outline into flash cards, I suspect I’ll have close to 1,000.

I added an element for positive feedback to my flash card work. When I start working on a new subject, I count the number pages in the outline and put that many pennies on my desk. As I finish each page, I put a penny in a cup. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction each time I toss another penny in and it keeps me motivated to keep going when I’m tired.

Flashes of Creativity
I think my “bar brain” comes with a dash of ADHD. As I’m studying, I’m being hit with fantastic ideas I want to work on after the bar exam, and they’re clear, concrete, actionable thoughts. I don’t know where these ideas are coming from by they are all over the board – the house I’ve decided I’m going to build, a new CLE I want to teach, and a “field trip” un-networking group I want to start are just a few of them. By the time we leave for the bar exam, I’ll probably have a giant Post-it on my wall labeled “After the Bar Exam” to capture all these ideas. (Rob says he’s feeling ADDish too.)

Less than two weeks to go! We’re both looking forward to getting this test behind us. For anyone else who is taking the California Bar Exam, we’ll see you in Ontario.

Postcards and Flash Cards

Rob-tastic and I are officially in the “heroin scratch” phase of bar prep. Our goals from here until the California Bar Exam are to learn and much as we can about what’s likely to be tested, and lock in our test-taking strategies to maximize the points we earn.

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

I got it right!

Practice, Practice, Practice
We’re lucky that Barbri gave us hundreds of practice multiple choice and essay questions. I particularly appreciate the online multiple choice questions where we can read the explanation about which choice was correct and why the others were wrong right after we submit our answer. Even though I’m exempt from taking the multiple choice portion of the bar exam, this helps me learn the nuances of all the rules. Every time I get a question right, I punch my hands triumphantly in the air.

Barbri gives us a full 6-hour MBE (multiple choice) practice test. Rob’s planning on taking it, but I’m not. He has to take the second day of the test, and since I don’t (thank goodness), my time would better spend focusing on the essay portion of the bar.

Making Flash Cards
Flash cards work for me. Making them by hand and going through them is the best way for me to memorize things. They got me through high school, college, law school, and my first bar exam. When I was studying for my first bar exam, I paced around the house going through my cards. I easily walked a mile a day. I even jumped in the pool and walked around the shallow end going through my flash cards until I learned all the rules for secured transactions. One day I lost my mind and took my flash cards for a walk because my 1,800 square-foot house felt too claustrophobic. I walked for over an hour in 110-degree heat going through the flash cards. I’m sure people thought I was crazy the way I was muttering to myself.

At the beginning of this bar prep, I bought 1,000 index cards. (I made just under 1,000 flash cards for the Arizona Bar.) I suspect I’ll go through them and more this time around. When everyone was enjoying their Independence Day holiday, I wrote over 100 flash cards on all the concepts for real property.

It turns out Rob was also studying real property over the holiday. He came in the office today and said, “No one should own Blackacre. That land is nothing but trouble.”

Sending love and thanks from Arizona

Sending Postcards to our Barbri Instructors
It’s lonely studying for the bar exam. We spend long hours doing practice questions and watching hours of Barbri lectures. With all the stress and hard work that goes into studying for this exam, we appreciate anything in this process that makes smile. Rob-tastic said he laughed when our Corporations instructor, Douglas Moll, started his lecture by saying, “You’re not going to be tested on California law with respect to corporations. You’re going to be tested on majority rule principles. . . . Purge anything you know that’s California specific. That actually won’t help you.” (Yes, we have to know non-California rules for the California Bar Exam. It doesn’t make sense to us either.)

We are grateful to the instructors who make dry topics bearable and complicated topics understandable. Over the weekend, I picked up some Arizona themed postcards to send to our favorite instructors to thank them for helping us through this. As the always-entertaining Chuck Shonholtz says, they’re setting us up to “beat the bar nine ways ’til Sunday.”