The Count Down

The count down is continuing.  I am not stressed.  I am not disorganized.  I keep marching the best I can.  What else can I do?

A little over three weeks and I have my first final in Contracts.  I feel like I have no confident grasp on the material.  At least in Torts and Civil Procedure I feel like I have an idea of what is going on.  Contracts leaves me frustrated and irritated.  Part of it is the professor who I feel is trying to dumb it down and in the process has made it so convoluted it isn’t making sense.  I learn more in reading outside material in Contracts than I do in class.  Unfortunately, the professor is the one grading my final and he is my audience.  I am performing for him and have to do it in a fashion acceptable to him.  Well, that isn’t entirely true.  I just have to do average on it to be safe.

I never considered myself above anyone else.  However, I have seen a couple come crashing to reality this week.  I do feel my pride pricked in a number of ways.  I received my first C on a test.  I did better in Calculus.  It didn’t hurt because I was not making it my major!  I actually received a C+ for whatever that is worth.  It was kind of the professor to remind me that C is average so I did slightly better than average.  My first memo squeaked in with a B-.  Fortunately I was not one of the 7 F grades out of about 25 or so students in the writing section.  There were a couple of A grades, but I have yet to put a face with those individuals.

All those years in educational theory.  They worked so hard to convince us our system had become watered down and grades did not mean what they used to.  Those policy wonks obviously never experienced law school.  The C grade certainly still stands for average here.

The 2L and 3L students are quick to remind us all final exams really should receive an F grade but the professors have to curve it up.  So the average F becomes a C.  I find it somewhat pleasing to know the grades actually mean what they are supposed to mean.  The harsh reality is I will have to work for that elusive A.  The sad thing, I am realizing that it may be unattainable.

The C+ was received on an examination that really doesn’t amount to much.  It was citation for crying out loud.  I cannot even score an A on a citation exam.  How encouraging is that three weeks out from finals?  The best part, all examinations are timed.  Just like the citation exam, it is nearly impossible to do a sufficient job if you understood the material.  It is like swimming in a swamp at nighttime trying to follow the moon.

The old saying that these are the times that try men’s souls.  I do not feel doubt or fear.  But more acutely than any point in my life I sense urgency.  The mission always brought the watch cry, “Do you feel the urgency of this work, Elder?”  Every moment I am less than diligent I feel like Walmart.  Rather than prices dropping, every second away from diligence in studying I see my grades dropping.

The Dean attempts to console us in reminding us that 90% of lawyers out there were not the top 10% in their class.  We all roll our eyes at the platitude remembering the bottom 10% probably never graduated law school.  Even more do not pass the bar exam.  Meaning, only about 70% of lawyers out there were not in the top 10% of their class.  While I am confident the rest are not pumping gas in Oregon, they nevertheless are not lawyering!

My final examination for Legal Writing & Analysis is due on Tuesday.  I must have spent nearly 40 hours so far in researching, writing, editing, and working on the paper.  The worst part?  I cannot show it to anyone!!!!  The grammar is all mine.  The sentence structure is all mine.  The word choices are all mine.  The tense, passive voice, adverbs, and all the rest are solely mine.  It is highly frustrating to know a class is based solely on my previous knowledge!!  I cannot get help or attempt help from a writing lab.  I cannot read a book on grammar, there is no time.  The document is of such a nature they don’t let me assign my name to it.  I have an examination number, supposedly to make it subjective for grading.  Meaning, that document cannot give any direct impression it belongs to me or I will lose all credit.  I have to be especially careful it conforms to my classmates and yet has to be above average.  How is that for a standard?  My professor especially warned me to not use any Britishisms.  The best part, I cannot show it to anyone to make sure I did not slip up on one single word which might disclose my identity.  My professor is British and she knows I lived there for several years.

Despite what others joke about an Idaho education, I feel very blessed.  For the most part my teachers taught grammar, sentence structure, and all the rest.  At least I have the background.  Damn them and me for not making more of an effort.  If I had paid attention then I would be less average than I am now!  How strangely I appreciate Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Suhr, Mrs. Workman for the lessons I remember then giving.  I am sure other teachers covered but their lessons were less memorable.  If only I had understood then how seriously it would be breaking me now.

August through December have been nothing but classes.  Each class has covered 100’s of pages of material.  We are to understand the rules, nuances, ideas, and law emanating from the combined 1000 pages of information.  I have to outline it, brief it, understand it, know it.  But when that examination comes I cannot just attempt to waste ink on 1000 pages of material.  The professors then give us a scenario and we have to analyze it, apply it, understand it, and predict it.  If I could regurgetate the entire 1000 pages in the combined 9 hours of testing, I would still fail.  I have to present it in such away around the facts the professor has given in a manner in which they approve.

This might as well be the military in some small way.  The old line they break you down before they break you up.  Only from what I hear they just keep breaking you down.

There is solace for me.  Thousands have walked the trail before and lived to tell the tale.  I am not walking this path alone.  I never have walked any path alone.  I never have been the first down any road.  I have never have been a pioneer, just followed in the tracks of those who went before.  The road is before me, shining in the sun.  Okay, I am exhausted and terribly thirsty.  I sure want to sit down and take a rest for a couple of weeks but that would be death.  That would literally kill my career and hopes for the future.  So I press on like weary saints who walked over 1,000 miles.  We all have our roads to walk, I am aware of mine at present.

As long as I continue at least average I will make it to the valley.  Just a few more weeks to walk.  Oh, and how exciting, I get to start the journey all over again in January!  Even better, I get to do it with even a heavier load!!

We watched Atonement this evening.  Boy am I glad I am not carrying stones like that.  How difficult to go throughout life with that on your shoulders.  I do not believe it is from a true story, but I am in a better situation than that.  Okay, back to the memo.


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