What? You think he can’t hear you? You think maybe I’ve lost my mind just the slightest bit? We are, after all, connected only by the internet? Well, you would be surprised. Yes, you with the annoying, gum-snapping habit and YOU, playing Dave Matthew’s “Satellite” over and over again while you read blogs. S. can hear you. HE CAN HEAR EVERYTHING.
A-hem. Lest you think S. and I are always sickeningly in love, calling each other pet names and living under a perpetual rainbow, feeding bunny rabbits and hummingbirds straight from our palms, I’m here to tell you the last several months have been nothing short of excruciatingly stressful. Oh, we are fine – we are absolutely fine – but between relocating to Pittsburgh, my new job, S.’s graduation and then two + months of S. studying for the bar exam, it wouldn’t be overstating it to say our nerves are a bit frayed around here. And I am guessing unless one is about to take the bar exam (tomorrow and Wednesday) one really can’t understand the magnitude of the event. I mean, I like to think I understand. Lord knows I’ve been hearing about it for long enough. But the tension and anxiety emanating from the kitchen where S. studies (for he captured my kitchen, people – this weekend was the first cooking I’ve done in months) has poured into the cracks and crevices of our apartment, bleeding into and around our marriage like an oil leak. So distracted has my husband been, so determinedly single minded that one day I even accused him of having an affair because I can’t remember a time when our conversations have been so disparate.
“An affair? You think I’m having an affair?” He yelled said. “When in God’s name would I have the time to have an affair? I just moved here! I don’t know anybody. And I am about to take the BAR EXAM!”
“Well, you aren’t even answering questions I ask you directly! It’s like you don’t even hear me! What else could you possibly be thinking about?”
“I am thinking about whether our apartment sits near a gas line, and if it does, what if one day our coffee pot doesn’t turn off automatically and burns the whole building down, and our bo-hunk neighbors upstairs sue us for everything we have, and we end up destitute and living on the street, for your information!” And with that he sat down to his laptop and purchased some sort of umbrella insurance policy protecting us against exactly that.
Ah, yes. The weird weird world the bar student inhabits. We’ve had loads of similar conversations recently, ranging from the necessity to create wills as soon as he’s done with the exam, to the fact I am currently unable to divorce him since Pennsylvania demands a 6 months residency before divorcing, to the property rights of our cabin in northern Michigan. After one such argument (because really, what woman likes to be told she’s in divorce no-man’s land?), and perhaps knowing the written word reaches me more effectively than anything he could say, he turned to Jeremy Blachman’s (author of the Anonymous Lawyer blog) Wall Street Journal essay on taking the bar exam, and pointed to this excerpt:
Even putting aside the hours of enjoyment you can have packing your test-day clear plastic storage bag, preparing for the bar exam isn’t a heck of a lot of fun. Most people say the worst part is doing hundreds and hundreds of practice multiple choice questions, but I think the worst part is how doing those multiple choice questions makes you feel about the world. Nothing good ever happens to the people in practice bar exam questions. Everyone who crosses the street gets hit by a car, every doctor botches the surgery, parachutes never open, contracts never get fulfilled, anyone who uses a lawnmower ends up in the hospital, as soon as you write a will your whole family dies, employee benefit plans never pay out their benefits, computers all get viruses, your friends are always intoxicated, stealing your farm equipment, and driving it into the barn, police search you all the time for no good reason, you can never find a good place to hide your weapons, banks never recognize a signature as a forgery, and the forger always flees the country.
Not that it’s any better for criminals. Arsonists never burn down what they mean to, thieves always end up murdering someone, conspirators can never convince their fellow criminals to back out, no one is ever given access to their lawyers before questioning, and spring guns go off in everyone’s garage, each time killing the neighbor kid who just meant to return the tools he’d borrowed.
Certainly studying for the bar exam has skewed S.’s sensibility, just a bit. My normally led-foot husband drives just under the speed limit now, and if he sees someone litter, he picks it up. Before this summer I would have argued that the first year of law school seemed to be the biggest mind-fuck out there, but I would definitely have to amend that argument and say, instead, the bar exam must be.
S. has, effectively, shut out most of the world to study for this exam. His parents call me to make sure he’s okay. He has taken a two month hiatus from work. He talks to no one except me, my brother on the Saturday nights D. tends bar at his restaurant and S. goes to blow off some steam, and a handful of other law school graduates all going through the same process. His sister is getting married quickly after the exam, and we will be traveling for a week of festivities, and instead of looking forward to the event he mutters darkly about how other people are getting on planes to Aruba after the exam but not him – Oh no- because his sister had the audacity to choose a wedding date right after the exam.
Oh, you know. I love him so. I love him so much and I told him I don’t care if he passes because I am just SO proud of how hard he has worked and oh holy hell was THAT the wrong thing to say. I had better damn well care if he passes because he CERTAINLY doesn’t intend to ever go through this again.
I think if we did a breakdown of our stream of conscious thoughts S.’s would look like this:
while mine looks like this:
do I look fat in my bridesmaid dress? No, just curvy. No, fat. No curvy. I am never going to finish my novel. My novel rocks. Bar Exam. What should I have for dinner? Should I go to kickboxing? Can I gather up some girlfriends for lunch. Vodka. Bar exam.
Ah, but the exam is practically here – S. sits for it tomorrow and Wednesday. And once the exam is over, our time of being school free really IS upon us (well, traditional schooling, anyway), an unprecedented point in our marriage. We will fall into August together – into the rush of M.’s wedding and my mom’s 60th birthday celebration and a large work conference for me and we then we will greet September, without pencils and without books, and without teachers’ dirty looks, and I am both looking tremendously forward to this and, at the same time, highly suspicious of a September that doesn’t bring, if not a new course load, a GRE test for which to study. It should be interesting!
pS – our neighbors aren’t really bo-hunks. They just happen to work early-morning shifts and so are home all day while S. studies, and they have an affinity for the best of Bob Marley.