Friday, February 26, 2010

When Not Passing a Bar is OK

Thanks to the well wishers and positive peeps out there who give me more credit than I deserve. The whole "not passing the bar" thing has nothing to do with my intelligence or lack thereof - I know I can pass a bar (unless it's having a GREAT happy hour), but I also know you really have to study. A Lot. I met lots of practicing attorneys who were there taking it the second time because, surprise surprise, they didn't have time to study the first time.

But I asked you all "why didn't I study when I had the chance?" And kudos to Suzy who hit it spot on: I simply wasn't ready.

And I think this all has to do with The Big Move, which in many ways resembles The Big Divorce. For many years I knew I wanted to be Divorced from Ex, but the actual doing part was so hard. There were kids to consider, and stuff, and moving, and splitting up, and telling people, and being an outcast and admitting certain failures, and hiring a lawyer, and filing court papers. Etc etc etc. But finally, after many years I got up the courage, set the wheels in motion, and pulled the plug.

And Now? It feels great and I know it was the right thing to do.

Looking back on the Florida Bar experience this week, I realize that just going and taking the test, even without studying, was the right thing to do. It helped me focus, made the decision more real. And now I know that I do want to pass this - I do want to make plans to move. I might not move this year or next, but I want to position myself so that when the time is right - when the job is right and it feels right with the kids - then I will be in a position to Go.

As my sister told me, "How do you eat that elephant? One bite at a time...."

Thanks Sissy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When Soliciting Recommendations is WRONG

For the dreaded Bar Exam I stayed at a dive. I pretty much figured it would be a dive. I am spoiled, used to staying in 5 star hotels for work (when someone else is paying the bill) but I? Am cheap. So I moved myself out of the beautiful $300/nite Westin, figuring "I'm just going to sleep there." and booked a room at less than 1/2 price at the Howard Johnson.

Now I did check the reviews at And surprisingly, there were hundreds of reviews and most of them positive. They were qualified with "for the price... " and yes I'm not dumb enough to think I was getting the Ritz.

But now that I am here, I have discovered WHY there are so many "positive" reviews. "Write a positive review, get a free drink."

Well Duh. Who wouldn't lie for a free drink? ME THAT'S WHO. (Wait I mean who wouldn't lie on a review. Because I'm pretty sure I've told some whoppers in my past to some unsuspecting member of the male persuasion in exchange for a drink or three). As a frequent traveler , I count on those reviews to an extent as a check on "do I really want to stay there?"

And I have to say, this is abuse. And when I get home I am going to write a scathing review that lets these companies know that HJ IS SOLICITING PERJURY!

This place is a dive. And I have promised myself that if I study for the test in July, then I get to stay at a good hotel! That, my friend, is incentive. Believe me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Well that Stunk

Day one of the two day test - I was excited for the support from my previous post below and from my facebook friends. I foolishly thought I stood a chance.

The morning session was essays - and really the one thing I studied. I got three easy topics which I had predicted and hit pretty much a home run.

Then I found out the afternoon was all multiple choice, ALL Florida Law. Oops.


I think of the 100 questions I was sure about the answer for ... exactly one. I wish I were exaggerating.

I found out that a lot of people come back to repeat today's part. Tomorrow is supposed to be the easier part. Tomorrow - the part I studied for Not. At. All.

I also found a fellow out-of-state lawyer who also did great this morning and knew 5 questions this afternoon.

As we parted ways, I said, "See you in July!"


Monday, February 22, 2010

Going to Take A Test

The day (two actually) is finally here - the Florida Bar Exam. What the hell was I thinking when I started the paperwork for this last Fall? Oh right - that someday I want to live in Florida!

Well someday is going to have to be very very far in the distant future, because I have studied about 10 hours for this test. It requires about 100 hours of study. I have been working my butt off, fooling around procrastinating when not working, and generally doing anything but studying.

Why is it that I have not studied I wonder? I have pondered this a lot in the last three weeks - instead of studying, of course. Remember, I was snowed in for a week, with no power for 3 days = lots of time to study, right? But I didn't. I studied for maybe an hour or two. That's all. Why?

I honestly don't know. Perhaps I am so afraid of failing this thing that I figure if I don't study then if I fail, well, no biggie because I couldn't be expected to pass it. Perhaps I'm just so stressed over work that when I'm not working I don't want to study. I billed 255 hours in January. Billed - that doesn't count all the time I'm actually at the office. Do the math....

I do know that I do want to move to Florida. I have been looking at jobs on line down there and I keep thinking "yes yes move!" But I also love my job here and I just got a whopping raise. What I'd truly like best is for my firm to open a Florida office. There has been such talk but it's probably two or more years in the future. Can I wait that long? Well, the question is do I want to wait that long? The answer is NO.

Oh and in case you're wondering, it cost me about $1600 not including hotels and travel to take this test...and I am paying for it myself. Should be incentive enough, eh? Apparently not.

So why didn't I study? Why aren't I studying now instead of blogging?

If anyone has an opinion, I'd love to hear it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympics, Dreams, Crushes, Chills

The chills are not because I'm watching frigid winter games. The chills come from stories like Noelle Pikus Pace, a very young mom who has overcome double-shin breaks to try to medal in the skeleton race. The Chills come from watching hottie Evan Lysacek win the gold (again - I love reruns) and ignoring the pouty face of Evgeni Plushenko who was clearly "disappointed" with silver. Disappointed in a silver medal at the Olympics? Seriously?

What possesses me to come home from work at 11pm night after night and stay up until 1am watching tv? Me, the girl who, as a rule, never watches TV. No time people. But I am so loving this time delay and late night olympics!! There is simply no better way to end a loooong day of work than to watch these young kids excel in their sports. Kids who train day in and day out, overcoming amazing setbacks, achieving amazing results. Kids whose skates break in mid-routine only to get back up and finish. Kids who tumble on their heads and get back up. Broken bones, family strife, nothing seems to stop these champions.

Tiger? Go away. You can't compete. You are a loser. These kids? They are all worth a gold medal. They are giving it all, leaving it all on the field (or the mountain or the ice) for that one chance at glory.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saying Goodbye

In my Rebuilding class, we write a goodbye letter. I wrote mine but I need to feel it. It may be TMI for some of you. I have thought hard about this. And I think part of my Rebuilding is letting go and Believing I CAN let go. So here is my Goodbye Letter.

I started to tell you goodbye. After two pages of solid, single spaced, tiny handwriting, I hadn’t even gotten close to the goodbye part – I was still tracing history. And I realized I wasn’t saying goodbye because I haven’t gotten past the blame.

The blame I have taken for our breakup.

The blame I want to assign to you for not loving me. For never loving me. For lying to me about being my Prince Charming. For pretending to be the other half of “the perfect couple.”

And then I realized that I need to say goodbye to the blame, to the past, to the dreams shattered, the heart broken. I need to say goodbye to the pain of never being heard.

I admit it – I wanted the perfect life. I wanted 2.3 kids, a dog, a picket fence, a vacation home, and lots of cousins and grandparents. Most of all, I wanted love. To love and be loved, warts and all. I wanted to be the girl you thought you married. I tried to be a good wife, a good mother, a good Sunday School teacher, children’s choir director, Brownie Mom, Denmother. When that didn’t work, I tried to be the best law student and then the best lawyer. Something – anything – that would bring back the dream. The dream of us, of our family, our extended family, all of it.

When it became apparent that nothing I did would ever be good enough, when you gained 50 pounds and told me you didn’t care because I was killing you, I broke. I schemed, I planned. I told you to leave – it’s what you asked for all those years ago. It’s what you said you wanted when the kids went to college. So I gave you an early release for bad behavior.

And you hated me for it – you said I was selfish. I wrecked the dream, I ruined our future. I damaged the children.

I wore a big D on my shirt. I was shamed. I failed. I lost the future – grandchildren in rocking chairs on the front porch, growing old together, holidays, milestones celebrated, family time. All gone.

Despite my friends, my family, your sisters, my children – telling me it was OK, I started to believe you. I started to take all the blame and the guilt and to doubt myself as you were always so good at making me do.

Until today when I put it all down on paper and said Wait. This is a child’s dream built on a foundation of make believe. The 5 year old in me wanted Prince Charming. The 18 year old girl thought she found it. The 30 year old girl clung obsessively to it. But the 40 year old girl woke up and saw the lie for what it was.

Maybe I could have done it better. Maybe I could have been kinder. Maybe I could be nicer some days. Maybe you could, too. But today I am saying goodbye to the blame. Today I am saying goodbye to the childish dreams that never had a chance of coming true. Today I am saying goodbye for being a foolish girl in love with a lie. Today I am saying goodbye to the heartache of trying so hard to get you to notice me. Good-bye yesterday.

Hello tomorrow.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Looking out my back door, across my yard to the little playhouse that the kids' Great Grandfather built in 1967.

Out my back slider to the trampoline in the distance. It's still snowing in this photo by the way...

Looking down my street - after the first big snow fall and just as the second one is starting. Notice my streets haven't really been plowed...

Looking up my driveway after the first big snow and the morning of the second one. We had shovelled the driveway twice already since the second snow began.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When Snowpocalypse Meets Snoverkill

These past few days have given me a glimpse into survival, into human nature, into the fragility of life and my own pathetic nature. Mostly I am impressed by what I see around me, but I am sorely disappointed in "government."

Friday night we started the Snowpocalpyse - my neighborhood got between 25 and 30 inches of snow. I live in a VERY old neighborhood with lots of old, tall trees and pine trees, which hold the snow until they can't and they fall over and break stuff - powerlines, houses, cars, people. It's rather scary. We lost a lot of powerlines. Saturday 4am we lost power.

Saturday we lived in the family room with the door closed and the fire going. We brought in loads of wood and keep trudging out to the woodpile to dig under the tarp for more wood. Dragging it back across a 1/2 acre in 2.5 feet of snow got challenging. [why yes I asked Son before it all started to get wood. But he didn't think of the magnitude of the snow, so he left too much of it on the pile]. I cooked eggs over the fire, made hot chocolate, reheated old dinners. We were surviving. We played card games, shoveled snow. Shovelled again. Shovelled again.

Saturday night I would sleep for about an hour then restack the wood on the fire. The temperature in the house dropped to the 40's but the family room was livable. And we had dogs and blankets.

By Sunday morning we were out of wood, out of patience. [note to self - you are a wimp. How did people survive Katrina? Haiti? I would not have made it] We were lucky to have hot water so we braced for a quick shower- nothing like stepping out of a hot shower into 40 degrees. Brrrr.

We packed up all the stuff we had bought for the big game, and a friend came in his ginormous construction truck and took us to his house. His small, adorable house packed to the gills with other "refugees." I cooked all day Sunday and fed the masses for THE BEST SUPERBOWL EVER. Who Dat and all dat.

Sunday I took my one Dog Queen Bee to another friend's and slept. Truly slept. Wow.

Monday, no power. I realized the one change of clothes wasn't going to get me through, so I spent Monday feeding the masses at Refugee central, then decided to hike back to my house for a change of clothes. Daughter had hiked off to another friend's house about 2 miles away with the other 2 dogs. Son was out working, snowplowing driveways and helping the elderly. Meanwhile neighbors were out canvassing, knocking on doors, getting out the older folks. They put one woman on a sled and dragged her a couple miles while other men carried her wheelchair so that they could get her to a safe place.

Wait - sleds, hiking miles? Where do I live? Out in the midwest? HELL NO I LIVE 10 MILES FROM DC. So why all the pioneering? Because they don't plow my neighborhood. Ever. If I could just get to the top of my street, I would be home free. Just 0.7 mile is freedom. but from here to there is hell. And I'm lucky - some of my neighbors just around the corner are barricaded behind trees and downed powerlines. With the new snow due tonight, they may not get power for another week. Fortunately as I returned to my house Monday night, I realized the furnace was running! POWER! It took 6 hours to get up to the 60's inside.

Pathetic. Totally and wholly pathetic.

We've had PEPCO power trucks in our neighborhood - they look down those side streets and say,"Gee, we'd restore power if we could get down there but we can't. See you later."

And the plows have entered our neighborhood- they do ONE street. One. And leave. We stop them and beg them to turn down another side street. For some reason they tell us they can't.

My neighbor took matters into his own hands Saturday morning and had a "friend" come plow him out. But just beyond his house, he left a 7 foot pile of snow, which is now ice. Our "through" street is no longer "through." We've had four 911 calls that had to turn around because of the pile. I finally called neighbor today and said, "The masses are ready to lynch you. Call in some favors and get that pile out of here. We are too busy digging our selves and our elderly neighbors out to deal with the pile of Ice you created."

We do not understand why we are abandoned. There are computer maps of our county that show that the richer neighborhoods have been plowed. But we, again, are ignored. At the very least, the county plows need to go out with the PEPCO trucks and plow out the streets with no power so that people can be restored.

No power isn't about comfort. It's about survival. Houses are 36 degrees. Pipes are in danger of bursting (some have already burst I hear). Older people cannot maneuver in the snow and are afraid to leave, but if they stay, they will die. I am so afraid of what we are going to hear after the storm is over. We are banding together to canvas the neighborhood, but I am afraid we have missed someone.

This is not a third world country. This is not the rural outback. This is the suburbs of Washington DC, and this is pathetic.

Friday, February 5, 2010

As Life Passes By

Sometimes I find it curious that the more there is to say, the less I Blog. Part of that is because certain people read this that I don't want to, and so the things I used to write about, I don't. Part of it is, well, I find myself too busy to blog. The outlet I craved, needed during those early days of being divorced seem to have faded. And yet, when something funny or endearing or enraging happens, I often write the post in my head, wondering what snappy comment Cheri would find, missing the wit and love of Jo, the humor of Suzy, the support of Chitown Girl, Etc Etc Etc, Jenn, Hula Girl, and so many others. I don't read the blogs like I used to, but I carry you all around in my heart.

And so it is that another major event, a turn in the road has occurred and yet the pages of my blog remain blank. Tonight as we get the Snowpocolypse, I sit by the fire, watching the snow fall at a rate of 2-3 inches an hour, and ponder the past few weeks.

A few weeks ago, The Captain and I had a Big Talk. And he graciously accepted the fact that "I gotta be me." It's no secret I found him right on the heels of my breakup. I tried to keep him at arm's distance, knowing that I probably needed some Alone Time to deal with the Divorce. But he was so cute, supportive, loving, friendly, unassuming, funny, charming, adventuresome. He was all that Ex never, ever was. And yet he was all the good things Ex was, too - handy, smart, generous, quiet. Quiet? Yeah, why do I pick those quiet guys? And could this quiet guy like me when the first one, despite knowing my rather, um, outgoing personality, got tired of me so fast?

And it's no secret I started a Rebuilding class in September. The first rule of the class, "Don't date." Ha! don't date? I've get a serious boyfriend of nearly 2 years! Don't date?

Those words haunted me. The words of my therapist, my friends, my family, total strangers all coming back to me. "How can you start a new relationship when you haven't spent time letting go of the last one."

And so as the fall turned to winter, and dating turned to, well, "More," I started to Panic. And I stopped enjoying all the things we shared. I stopped loving the texts, the phone calls, the 20 second "HIthinkingof you" breaks in the day. I stopped writing emails. I dreaded the long journeys. I didn't want to pack.

And he knew. Of course he knew. Because amazingly, He Knows Me. He gets me. And that scares me - because what if no one else ever gets me like he does? But why am I right back in a relationship? The Panic won. The Captain stepped aside.

I am sailing alone, but I do not feel adrift. I have kept what the Captain taught me, and the mentors before him. I am not sure of my course, having not yet mastered celestial navigation. But I am asking God for Guidance. The Captain checks in and has asked the Courts for an extension to file a brief in rebuttal. He is gathering his exhibits and his expert witnesses (his words, not mine and no he's not a lawyer, just very witty!). He has submitted his first brief, which the Court is pondering rather than filing an opposition.

In the months to come, I will tackle my Self. My career plans, my kids graduating, my House, my goals, my future. Not that the Captain really interfered with that (here's where it gets difficult). He let me be me, and yet, just by being with him, I felt I couldn't be Me. Perhaps 20 years of second-guessing, feeling guilty, feeling inadequate have left me with a desire to prove myself to myself.

And so I am charting my own course. For now.