Monday, July 7, 2008

Reclaiming the Spirit of '98

The bar is in less than a month. It's time for the crummiest, crammiest July ever. It's time to buckle down to the max. I just can't bring myself to commit to it yet - right now, I'm up to maybe 6 hours a day total (usually closer to 4) when I really need to be closer to 8. I don't think I'm alone

Why can't I do it to the max? What can the flagging bar review student do?

Aside from some rough patches here and there (clinic comes to mind), these last two years of law school haven't been all that tough. Yes, I studied diligently enough when finals came around, but mine were all self-scheduled, so I could work all day, but still get home at a reasonable hour. Before law school, my main job didn't require any all-nighters. My second job, as a tutor, involved a lot of driving, but after a while, not much thinking.

As for college, I was a Political Science major. And an Economics minor.

In fact, the last time I've really busted my balls is during my Junior year of high school, in 1997-8. Around April, things hit their apex. I was competing for an editorial board position on my high school newspaper (it was a weekly paper - a big deal, not to mention a time-sucker), studying for a bunch of AP tests, competing in a debate tournament. The month before, I was engrossed in the SATs. Add to that the fact that I was your average reckless teenager looking for a good time.

For three months, I got to school at 8:15 and worked until 12 or 1 a.m. When I wasn't in class, I was working in something or other. To be fair, there were a few half-hours now and then when I could hang out in the cafeteria and act like an idiot. But that was my right.

What did I do differently back then that allowed total immersion into what needed to be done?

- Caffeine. Back then, it was Pepsi. Lots of it. I started each day with a Big Gulp (I don't think they even make those any more), re-upped at lunch, took another pick-me-up after the last class and then sporadically as the evening wore on. Soda of any kind wasn't allowed at home, so I usually hid Pepsi in my room and drank it warm if I couldn't get to the kitchen for ice without any questions as to why I had no liquid in my glass. I may have been a bit hard to handle when I was really buzzed on the coffee and sugar, but it meant no after-class naps.

These days, I'm more of a coffee person, but like any real grown-up, I can't drink any after a certain hour without my sleep suffering. After months of advertising bombardment, I've tried 5 Hour Energy (less of a drink, more like a sip!). It's good for partying (remember partying?) but doesn't seem to keep me going during the day.

There's always trucker speed.

- Diet and Exercise. I'm miles ahead of 16-year-old me. I go to the gym regularly and, to a large extent, watch what I eat. Back then, lunch was usually a huge sandwich from an Italian deli, a giant slice of pizza (if I felt ambitious, Sicilian with extra cheese) or mozzarella sticks from the cafeteria. Unlike your average sandwich chain, those sandwiches had huge quantities of meat not weighed out on a scale and would now leave me passed out in my chair an hour after eating one. I could try eating like a pig for the next month and not exercising, but common sense leads me to believe that I could eat more a decade ago with less resulting sluggishness and unsightly wait gain.

- Variety. This morning, I was studying for the bar. This afternoon, I'll be studying for the bar. Tonight, ditto. Back then, I had five subjects in school and two big extracurriculars. Get bored with one? Try another until you get bored of that - there would be plenty of everything else to work on. Unless I treat Torts and Criminal Procedure as completely different subjects, I'm outta luck here.

- The Internet. Back then, there were no blogs, no social networking and no Flickr - the only non-static sites were newspapers and sports sites. Going from link to link on static pages gets old a lot faster than checking up on your 23 favorite blogs. Maybe I should resolve to only visit sites in existence back then. Hamster Dance anyone?

- I needed to get into a college. I already have a firm job to set up - the bar is just a condition precedent that almost 100% of my school passes. The urgency, while very much here, isn't the same kind of "if I don't completely rock everything, I'm going to be making minimum wage until the day I die from a stray bullet walking to my tiny cold water flat in a horrible neighborhood" way.

- Conclusion. It's clear that I need to return to high school levels of productivity, but I can't do it by being a high schooler. A degree of maturity is required. Which means I'm screwed.

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