Friday, November 26, 2010

prepping for 1L finals

Talk about uncharted territory. No undergrad prepares you for law school finals. As I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that it's November and I'm almost done with my 1st semester, I have to cope with studying for finals.

I am not in the same position mentally as many of my classmates. I've been through hell and lived to tell the tale. This semester, while not a breeze, has not been the overwhelming Slough of Despond it could have been. I am truly grateful for the coping mechanisms. I still wish I had not gone through any of the things I went through and I am not one to be buoyed by silver lining bullshit, but there is something to be said for experiencing the real world before coming to law school.

So, having said all of that, and in the grand tradition of posting about methods of anything on a law school blog, here's my 2 cents about finals prep.

- Go to all your classes. 2 of my 3 substantive law classes are recorded, so those were the ones I tried to miss when I needed to deal with my real life. My 3rd class has an active discussion board and a professor who is terrific about responding by email, but I still only missed 2 of his classes. Still, catching up is hard work and wastes time. Listening to an hour-and-40-minute lecture might seem great because you can pause and go back etc. But it turns it into a 3-hour exercise instead. Waste of time.

- If your school, like mine, does the grade bump-up with mid-terms and class participation, take advantage. Profs can increase grades by one-third, if they see fit. They usually have criteria for doing so. They submit the names for bump-ups before you write the exam.

My Civ Pro class is my small section and it's easier to talk in class. Plus, the prof chooses a number of people to call on each class, so it doesn't matter if you volunteer. But you should. Civ Pro is a tough class, for me, and I asked tons of questions and used the class discussion board a lot. She counts that usage as part of the class participation. Also counted were 2 submitted exercises, which I did very well in. Then there was the mid-term, which I got an A in. So I feel much more confident about going into the final with a bump-up in the bag. I also took advantage of her review sessions and the amazing TAs she has.

For Contracts, we also have 2 areas of possible bump-ups: 2 VGs on any 2 of your 3 submitted memos and class participation. There are 135 people in K and Torts. In K, we are called on randomly; in Torts, according to the class list. K will probably get through the entire class, but not in Torts. K has a vibrant discussion board and the Prof is very aware of who writes and what she writes. Lots of people have popped up since the 2nd memo has been handed back and I'm pretty sure he's noticed who has never written before and are doing so all of a sudden. I know I would.

We were given no criteria for bump-ups in Torts, so the final is it. Do or die.

- Outline. The word is drilled into your head from even before you get to your first class and it is a confusing road to hoe. It's going to be at least 2 months before you actually begin to understand how outlining works and by then you're pulling out your hair for not approaching the work in a more comprehensive manner. Everyone is in the same boat. Commercial outlines have their uses, especially in separating the forest from the trees. I have several question and answer study guides which I find very helpful in working out concepts I have trouble with.

- Join a bar prep program. BarBri is mine and I cannot love it more. The lectures are amazing outlines in themselves and really gives you a comprehensive overview of the course. Use them, and the commercial outlines. Tailor them to fit your course and professor's leaning. It will make your life much easier. Do not rely on them exclusively. Your professor will have leanings, will not cover some areas etc. Don't be stupid and ignore your class notes.

- Go over class notes carefully. Re-examine all those hypos the prof threw out there. Looking at them again once you have a better grasp of the subject matter, tweak the hypo yourself and look at the outcome.

- Study group. Or even a study buddy. My Civ Pro study buddy has blossomed into a buddy for all the classes. She and I work very well together and very much complement each other. We lean on each other's strengths and help each other over the trouble spots.

- Past exams. My study partner and I have learned so much from these exams, it isn't even funny. And we are getting better as utilizing the time as well. I even got brave enough to ask one of my profs to post more exams for the class, which he did!

- Talk to 2Ls and 3Ls. Not just the A-earners. Many people told me what they thought their mistakes were and how I can learn from them. That was even more helpful than the advice from the A crowd.

- Do not get distracted. By Thanksgiving, you should know where you can study and where you can't. If you're the kind of person people must stop and talk to, don't study in the crowded parts of the library. Tell you family, friends, b/fs and g/fs to leave you the hell alone. They have no idea what you are going through and they don't have to have any idea, they just have to accept it. Don't make enemies, but be firm.

- Don't distract others. Every school will have at least one jerk-off who has to stop and talk to you while you're deep in UCC 2-207, just to break your stride. No joke. He will WANT to distract you by telling you how stressed out he is, how he is never going to cover the material, how he has so much else going on. Learn to spot these fools a mile away. Learn to spot the dude who frames his questions in such a way that milks info out of you that you otherwise would not be willing to give. Make it clear, out loud if you must, that you're not going to talk about X, Y or Z. I'm just staying home.

It is every man for himself at this stage, there's no getting around it. But by now, you will know who to trust, who can help you and who to steer clear of. It's not the greatest way to view your law school world, but Law Review only takes a handful and getting into the top 15% of the class is much harder than it sounds. Good luck.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

me and law school

So in my first semester at university, I was pregnant with my first child. Cool. A nice story to tell the grandkids.

I'm not pregnant now, but am dealing with some health issues that remind me so much of those days. My lecturers at UWI were amazing, my friends really bent over backwards to help me and I managed to rally through without too much trouble. I wrote my exams, handed in all my papers, gave birth and went back to school. No big.

The different thing this time is I feel like I'm missing a lot of school. Or rather, time I should be spending on school work. I managed to get 2 days' extension on both my papers due this week, but I still feel like I should have managed my time better.

I know there is absolutely nothing I could have done differently and I know I'm not in as bad a way as I'd like to let myself believe. I'm halfway through my K memo and broke the back of my research memo in such a way that all I need to do is actually write it over in sentences. I managed to get 2 days' of my K reading done for this week and skimmed Civ Pro, which would make a close reading much easier. Torts is... well... a bit of a neglected puppy but also the subject I'm having the least trouble with.

I'm listening to Law Preview and have started looking at exam questions and have scheduled practice exams for 2 courses with my study buddies. We're doing K this week and Civ Pro next week and will do Torts after Thanksgiving. Luckily, after this week, we won't have anymore assignments to deal with and can focus on dealing with the big picture and course outlines and finals prep.

I have one more appt with the allergist and he said it will be a few more tests and immunization. The PAP device will arrive some time this week and I can only hope it will be on Friday. Then I see the ENT again early in December to make sure everything is working in tandem.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

hypopnea and school

The sleep doctor called me on Tuesday night and told me the results of my sleep study were more serious than he realized when he scanned the results on Monday morning. I am losing a lot of oxygen while sleeping and struggling in my sleep, both to breathe and stay asleep.

I honestly thought I was as tired as I am because of the depression and the new circumstances my body and mind are dealing with. Not so much, apparently. I'm literally not sleeping.

I am going back in tonight for a similar test but with a mask.

I also went to an allergist yesterday. And I am allergic to everything. Even the doctor was surprised when he saw the test results. I had no idea. Pets, tree pollen and all forms of mold were the worst of the lost, but I'm allergic to foods I had no idea I was allergic to: apples, string beans, green peas and spinach. That spinach pisses me off no end. I love spinach and eat it 3 times a week. It gives me that iron and energy I need because I am so tired! Irony much?

I'm going back to the allergist tomorrow for a CAT scan of my face. Sigh.

But I do have the best professors in the world. K prof and LW prof gave me 2 days' extension on my papers due next Monday and Tuesday. They were so great and I am so relieved. Still, I am losing a lot of time today and tomorrow and catching up is going to be tough. Pray for Mojo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

to apnea or hypopnea

So I finally visited an ENT for my sinus, snoring and other horrid breathing issues. He promised me he could fix it. I see my Tort action forming.

But seriously. He sent me to an allergist and for a sleep study to determine if I have sleep apnea. He told me I am very congested. I could have told me that.

The sleep study came first and I went to the facility on Sunday night. The tech was from Guyana and is planning to start law school in 2012. We had lots in common.

Good thing, too, because it took nearly an hour to hook me up to the machine. I had electrodes coming out my wazoo: across my forehead and chin, about 8 in my hair, on my neck, legs and two sets of wires up my nosey. To say I was uncomfortable is the biggest understatement I can think of.

All of the electrode wires were hooked into this brick that had to sit on the bed next to me. So I had to sleep, on my back, with about 50 tiny wires coming out of my head, all attached to me with some kind of white gook and surgical tape. I still have gook in my hair even though I washed it twice when I got home. Uk.

I felt like I woke up every 5 minutes and only fell asleep around 5:30 or so because I asked the tech if I could lie on my side now. Even the doctor said my sleep results from that time showed me so restful that they felt really bad to wake me up.

I was so tired when I went to sleep and I was even more tired when I woke up. I had a feeling it would be rough, so I got excused from my 2 classes on Monday. I was also a little worried that I might hear I have sleep apnea.

The doctor met with me that morning and said while it was unlikely I had sleep apnea, it appears that I have hypopnea. And if it gets worse, it is treated as seriously as sleep apnea.

I do have an apnea that comes in my disturbed REM sleep state. The doctor said that isn't too bad because the apnea is not the cause of the disturbance but a consequence of it. He said the serotonin reuptake inhibitor I take causes that REM issue. I'm going to have to live with that because I cannot come off the Lexapro.

But he doesn't think any kind of device is necessary and that b/w the allergist and the ENT, they should be able to ease my breathing, snoring and the pressure on my face. I see the allergist tomorrow and will find out more about the hypopnea later this week.

Stay tuned. Same bat time. Same bat station.

Friday, November 5, 2010


So the Hwangs continue the tradition of not giving presents on the date the present-giving should take place. As soon as I got home last night, Le Pie barreled into me and told me not to go take a shower (which I really wanted to do b/c I had a huge headache and wanted to wash my hair) because I need to open my presents.

Just before I walked into the flat, I checked the mailbox and one of John's presents was in there. I put it in my bag and closed it, expecting to hide it with his other present, which I managed to get without him seeing the delivery guy.

Then Der comes out of his room with 2 beautifully wrapped presents, which was a shock in itself, because John NEVER wraps my present. I usually get it in the box it was delivered in! And then I found out Derek wrapped his present to me all by himself. Aw.

So, I opened my bag and gave Derek the present for his Daddy (still in the box it was delivered in! Hah!). Derek was responsible for John no longer having a penknife, so I got a cute little Leatherman one to replace it. Then I pulled out his present from me. It took him a few minutes to get around to mine because he was all over the Leatherman. I got him a Ralph Lauren shirt and he looked gorgeous in it.

As for me, John bought me the Kindle I wanted. It's gorgeous and light and tiny and I love it! Derek gave me the case with built-in light that I wanted! I had to force myself to put it down. Der, always a step ahead of his old Ma, was great about helping me set it up. Before he went to bed, I asked him a question and he helped me again. Then he said, "Before I go, is there anything else I can help you with?" LOL!

I left the Kindle home today b/c I have my Legal Research final today and I would just be distracted by playing with it. And I have a complaint due for Civil Procedure due on Tuesday and I told my group I would send them a first draft to work on as I won't be in school on Monday. I do not need another thing to distract me while I cram for the exam at noon and work on the complaint afterwards.

But I really cannot wait to go home!