Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Piece & A Bit: Chicken soup for anxious bar examinants. Prettiest Girl in Arvin

Michael Sedano

I was talking recently to a woman who took the grueling California Bar examination. Waiting is the worst part. Dread mixes equally with anxiety even for the most confident law students. I’m sure Manuel and Daniel can attest to the emotional churning a person goes through in that awful interim between the bar exam and getting your results. Here's a glimpse into the future of this woman, and of all such former law students sweating out the bar.

It was time.

The woman pressed the enter key and sat down. Her computer screen woke from black into the familiar blue desktop. A single icon occupied center screen. CABAR, she had named it.

Pulsing the link would fill her screen with the white oval against a striped blue field. The California Bar Exam. The woman would type in her examinee’s serial number and press enter. One of two messages would populate the oval text hole. Every bar exam, more than half the applicants got the dreaded message: “Your name not found.” You failed. All those years. All that studying. All the money. Shot to Hell.

On the other hand, the taste of joyous exultation when the screen filled with the reader’s name. I passed. It’s all been worth it!

Last May, the woman had rented the robe and walked with her class. Juris Doctor she was now. “No, I’m not a lawyer yet, Ma,” she explained for the hundredth time. “I still have to pass the bar.”

The day after graduation she started studying for the bar exam. Every available hour, day in, day out. She read. She outlined. She briefed and practiced essays. Somewhere out there, people had paid thousands of dollars for bar prep classes. Money narrowed the odds but there are no guarantees. Answer the questions. Write the essays. Hold your breath. The best preparation was to review everything twice. In three years of law school she’d mastered the art of drudgery, so the work was effortless, second nature. It was what she did. And then she studied some more.

The week of the Bar Exam, the woman rose at 4:00 a.m. to meditate on the day’s challenges. The bus ride to the exam center gave her a chance to glance through the daily paper, sit among her fellow riders, eavesdrop on the chisme, but mostly stare out the window for the hour long ride to the convention center. A hotel room would have been a ridiculous extravagance. Day after day she rode that bus, wrote the exam, then rode that bus home.

She would have no results for months. Months and months of waiting, job hunting, and more waiting until the hour when the results would be available on the internet.

It was time.

The processor talked to the modem which talked to the internet which found the state bar’s website, navigated to the file the woman’s icon had linked. The colored ball spun for two seconds. In the first second, the woman felt the pangs of buyer’s remorse. The Macintosh had cost twenty five hundred dollars. She added the cost into her student loan and held her breath against tonight’s moment. In the last second, reason took over. With a JD and a bar number, she knew, she’d have the Mac paid off within about five years. Maybe more, but five years against a lawyer’s salary would be just about right. And if she could stomach it, a position in a firm, with a six figure salary, pay it off in one month. Unthinkable. But still, the bar number would be, could be, should be a . . . magic key?

The signal passed through the modem into the waiting processor. Text flowed across the liquid crystal luminosity, line by agonizingly slow line. Damn this modem! The woman’s eyes scanned the text for something that made sense. Bla bla bla… there! She saw her name. She pronounced it out loud. My Name. “Hey,” she said to the empty room, to no one in particular, to the world at large, “I see my name. I passed. I passed the bar!”

New Title from Chusma House Publications

I received the following announcement of something that sounds worthwhile. It’s good to see Chusma sustaining its efforts.

Title: Provocaciones, Letters from the Prettiest Girl in Arvin

Author: Rafaela G. Castro

Publisher: Chusma House Publications
P.O. Box 467
San Jose, CA 95103
Available: November, 2006

Brief Summary
A collection of sensitive essays that depict the lives of a close knit Mexican family living first in Arvin, in the San Joaquin Valley, and later in the San Francisco Bay Area. These insightful, loving, guilt ridden, and at times very sad narratives, reveal the religious, moral, cultural, and ethical values of a young girl raised in the 1950s and 1960s in a Mexican Catholic working class home. We are told stories about a special Mexican mother-daughter relationship; about loving one’s family but needing to leave it; about living in another country and loving it; and about the role of the Peace Corps in the lives of young Americans of the 1960s. The essays cover the years from the late 1930s, when the author’s parents married and came to California from New Mexico, to the 1990s when their lives ended. In between those years their special marriage experienced intense love and intense tragedy.

Short Bio
Rafaela Castro was born in Bakersfield, California, but has lived most of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area. She spent two years in Brazil with the Peace Corps before receiving degrees in English Literature, Library Science, and Folklore from the University of California, Berkeley. She has lectured in Ethnic Bibliography and Chicano Studies at UC Berkeley, and recently retired from the Humanities/Social Sciences department of Shields Library at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Dictionary of Chicano Folklore.

For all you law students out there, your time will come. Keep your chin up! See you next week!


No comments: