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The Undeniable Ruth

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.”

Life Doesn’t Care We’re Studying for the Bar Exam

There’s an old proverb that says, “Man plans and God laughs.” That’s been Rob and my experience with this bar prep.

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 friend, Jeff Moriarty dressed as Jesus to encourage marathon runners. The message works for the bar exam too.
Used with Permission

Conversations with God
If I believed in a traditional all-powerful deity, based on this proverb, I suspect these would be our conversations in recent weeks:

Me: I want to make my life simple so I can put my energy into bar prep.
God: You’re going to get hit by a car, live with daily pain, and have multiple appointments every week with the chiropractor for most of bar prep.

Me: I’m going to work on flash cards during my flights to and from BlogHer in Orlando.
God: You’re going to spend half a flight helping a dad flying with three small boys and one of them will be having ear issues from swimming.
(I have no regrets about this one. Helping a child doubled over in pain trumps studying any day.)

Me: I’m going to get a full-night sleep every night.
God: Your basset hound is going to get colitis so you’ll spend three nights taking her out every few hours plus about six hours taking her to vet and switching her to a cottage cheese, chicken, and white rice diet.
Me: I warned you what would happen if you do anything to Rosie.
God: By the way, your gymnastics coach/maternal figure passed away.
Me: Go fuck yourself.

Yeah . . . bar prep has been more challenging than expected, mostly due to events outside my control. It’s been exhausting couple of days. I spent yesterday working at home so I could work, study, and rest as I needed while sticking close to Rosie.

We got this.

Reminding Friends We’re Not Available
Rob-tastic doesn’t spend much time on Facebook, but he uses it to coordinate activities with friends. After getting several invites to spend time with friends, he felt compelled to send another reminder that while he enjoys spending time with them, he’s not available for fun and shenanigans until August. It’s not personal, he’s just studying.

I’m on Facebook nearly every day, so my friends know what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis. They still invite me to events and parties, but I automatically hit “Can’t Go” if it’s scheduled before the bar exam. I don’t have the time or energy for anything extra right now.

Pulling Back from Lawyer Work
July starts the weekend, and Rob and I are both pulling back from client work. Of course, all of our obligations to current clients will get done, but we’ll be spending more time out of the office to focus on studying. Rob said he wanted to spend whole days out of the office to focus on studying, and I can easily work on a client’s contract from home for a few hours in the morning and then study 7-8 hours during the rest of the day.

My goal is to be out of the office completely after July 7th until after the bar exam. The only thing that I can think of that would compel me to go into the office is if I’m working on a filing for the court. Senior litigator, John Mascari, is co-counsel on all of my cases. When I write a draft for the court, he and I sit down, each with our own copy of the document, and review it line-by-line. It’s easier to do this in person than by phone or email.

Barbri instructor Doug Moll said July starts the “heroin scratch” time of bar prep – meaning, all of us taking a bar exam may be extra agitated. Hopefully Rob-tastic and I can stay the course, focus on locking in the material, without getting to distracted by nerves. 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 the bar exam, cut them some slack, even when they are an irascible prick. (They’ll bounce back after the bar’s over.) Send them a note to make them smile. It makes a difference. If you want to be a super-friend, and offer to help clean their home or do their laundry. Anything that makes their life a little easier will be deeply appreciated.

Ontario Baby!

While Rob-tastic was in Europe, we found out we were assigned to the same testing center – Ontario, California, baby! We were glad to get confirmation that we’d be taking the bar exam in the same city.

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

If Rob and I were driving to Ontario, CA, we’d get to see part of Joshua Tree National Park.
Image by Ken Lund from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Since Rob was out of town, he trusted me to pick out our hotel . . . well, I booked two rooms and he didn’t object when he got back. We’re both good budget travelers and done our fair shares of staying in hostels, but the bar exam is not a time to skimp on comfort (and control, for me).

Rob and I agreed on three things for the hotel: quiet environment, comfortable beds and it had to be within walking distance of the convention center. I had two more requirements: hot breakfast available on-site and our rooms had to have refrigerators (so we could get pick up something for lunch during the bar exam and keep it in our rooms).

By the way: Rob thinks announcing that we’re taking the bar exam in Ontario is going to lead to an impromptu fan meetup – “6 random lawyers and law students coming by” as he put it, hopefully to buy me drinks which he knows I’ll slide across the table to him.

We also agreed we’re flying to/from Ontario. Once the bar exam is done, neither of us will be any shape to drive five hours to get home.

Undeniable’s Turn to Travel
I’m going to the BlogHer Conference in Orlando, Florida this weekend to speak on the legalities of blogging. Looking at the schedule of events, it’s going to be a fantastic event, but bar studying doesn’t take a vacation. I’ll take the lecture handout workbook with me to watch lecture videos in my room and my goal for the flights is to work on my flashcards. I suspect it’s something I can do in my coach seat without bothering my seatmates. I made close to 1,000 flashcards when I studied for the Arizona Bar. I suspect I will make the same amount for this test.

Yay Studying!

Catching Up is Hard to Do
Rob and I are both still trying to catch up on our respective study schedules. He lost time during his travels and I lost a few days while I was bogged down in motion practice. I’m more diligent about watching lectures during breakfast and getting out of the office earlier in the afternoon, but it’s still hard to do all the assignments.

Rob said his biggest challenge lately is not confusing the federal rules and common law with the exception to those rules in California. There’s no easy pattern or system for remember these things. It’s just a matter of memorizing everything – including rules that we will never use in real life. Who gives their property away as a life estate with a vested remainder in fee simple subject to executory interest?

Neither of us are freaking out about all we have to do and learn. There’s over a month to go, and we both know that we will do 100s of hours studying between now and the 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 – our stress is kicking up – or send us ice cream. (It was 119 degrees in Phoenix this week.) 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.)

Rob-tastic’s Back!

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

Statue of Anonymous in Hungary
Photo by Rob McGee

After three weeks in Europe and Asia, Rob is back in the States and back in the office. He walked into the office on Monday upbeat and refreshed from his travels with lots of pictures and stories. Rob’s a history buff, and he said that “Hungarian history is about 75% fighting Turks and Germans, and 25% building statues memorializing those wars.”

He told me about the statue of Anonymous in Hungary, created in honor of the unnamed chronicler (or possibly chroniclers) of the earliest Hungarian history. According to local folklore, if you touch his pen, it grants inspiration and writing ability. Of course, Rob touched it. That seems like a good omen heading into a bar exam.

Rob Went on Vacation and all I got was this Shirt
When Rob was at the INTA conference, one of the vendors was making personalized “.Sucks” shirts for attendees. He had them make a “Studying.Sucks” shirt for me. No one studies for a bar exam because it’s fun.

Thanks Rob!

Side note: I don’t think this vendor’s first language was English. Rob’s pretty sure the vendor thought he asked them to make this tiny shirt for him to wear.

We’re Both Behind on Bar Studying
Rob and I have both been dealing with schedules and circumstances that make it difficult to keep up with the demanding Barbri schedule. Rob was traveling with only one Barbri book and relied on mostly online content to help him study.

Rob and I are like yin and yang this week. He’s energized and I’m exhausted. I’m still a few days behind the Barbri schedule, due to obligations to clients and needing to exercise some self-care. Studying for the bar is a marathon and it wouldn’t do me any good to burn out so early on in this process. I’ve had to take some time to get some much needed rest and relaxation. As one of the members of my mastermind group reminds me, “You can’t draw water from an empty well.”

This past weekend, I studied 8-9 hours each day, trying to keep up and catch up and hit the ground running at work on Monday. By Tuesday, I was exhausted again. I’m someone who tends to use mantras to stay focused, but I was so drained on Tuesday, my mantra was “Don’t throw up, don’t pass out.” Thankfully, by Wednesday morning, I had my mojo back and my mantra was, “Hold my beer.” (No, I don’t drink. It’s just a euphemism for “I’ve got this.”)

On the flip side, I’m working like gangbusters on client projects. Right now, due to all my obligations, I’m trying not to take on any new clients except those that fall into one of my niche areas of practice. For other prospective clients who need help from my firm, but not necessarily me, I pass along those calls and emails to a colleague with more available bandwidth.

The one thing that’s become obvious with this round of bar prep is there’s no time to waste. (Self-care is not wasting time.) There’s so much time and so little to do!

Strike that. Reverse it.