Wednesday, December 17, 2008

DONE!

Finished my family law exam this morning. I'm done this semester (as long as I pass everything). It's such a good feeling, but I'm in a state of utter exhaustion and numbness. Going to take 'er easy tonight, and maybe tomorrow I'll feel a little more jubilant. So nice to no longer have a crunch-time to-do list.

So ... tired. Where's my couch?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two Down, One to Go

(AGAIN) Exams, that is.

I liked looking at it in terms of classes, though, so if we look at CLASSES, I'm four down, one to go. Much more encouraging.

Wrote my International Trade Law exam this morning. Yikes. It was definitely a fair test, had enough time to ponder and write, while still taking the full three hours. Hopefully I was on the right track for answering some of the questions ... they seemed to me to be the kind of questions where you could go a couple of different ways in approach ... just hope I covered all my bases.

What's always lovely about law school exams is that even if you think you smoked an exam (or bombed an exam), you'll never truly know how you did thanks to the lovely curve. It all depends on how all of your classmates did. Both a curse and a blessing. AND ... a good reason NOT to think about it until marks are available in January.

So ... to-do list for crunch time shrinks again:
  • Write my Family Law final exam on Dec 17
Last exam. Tomorrow morning. Must motivate myself to study somehow. I think I'll take a nap to refresh myself, first. THEN ... straight to scholarly pursuits. Why is it always so hard to motivate for the last one? Because ... the light at the end of the tunnel is just too close ... you can almost bask in its glory ... you can feel the heat of it but you can't quite see it through the darkness yet.

I'm going to keep picturing the feeling that I'll have when I walk out of the test tomorrow and I'm 5/6 done law school. THAT is a good motivator. Being able to focus on the holiday break and put my feet up without guilt ... that is enough to get me to study ... AFTER my nap of course.

Monday, December 15, 2008

So ... the Cold Hasn't Let Up Yet ...

... and our car wouldn't start this AM. Luckily, we're good ol' AMA members, and so we put our call in to the booster truck. About 8 hours later, we got our boost. Yikes. Must be BUSY out there. To be honest, it was nice NOT to be a priority, we were safe in our house ... can't imagine being stuck in the middle of nowhere and having to wait!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oooooh ...

... just found a new motivator for studying. I made myself some hot chocolate (stove-top styles, cocoa, sugar, milk, and a little peppermint extract), and cut up some apple slices. Mmmm ... so satisfying, so worth sitting infront of the computer for.

Oh the Weather Outside ...

... is truly frightful:

The warning is an EXTREME WINDCHILL warning. YIKES! Good day to stay inside and not leave the house, I'm thinking. I guess procrastinating the studying will be a bit tougher ... although there's always the house to clean ... my place is never cleaner than during exam time.

For Jason's birthday on Friday, we had a nice little date night. We went over the the Keg to get a nice steak dinner, but as per usual the wait there was 60 - 90 minutes. We should know better by now, and get there before the dinner rush, but apparently we're not good at dragging our butts out the door much before 6:30 or 7:00.

In the interest of saving our poor stomachs from hunger pangs, we decided to check out Red Lobster instead. We got a table right away (faster than it took Jason to park the car), and I got to indulge in those garlic cheese biscuits that I always forget how much I love. Jason's snow crab was especially yummy, too ... I even got to sneak a nibble.

We then (finally) checked out the movie Zack & Miri Make a Porno. It was pretty much what we were expecting based on what our friends had said about it ... started off strong on the comedy side, got a little sappy near the end ... pretty much what you'd expect from Kevin Smith and the gang. It was a good date movie for us (Jason thought the beginning was funny even though the humour was a little over the top for me, I thought the ending was sweet even though Jason was a little disappointed in the lovey-dovey twist).

Yesterday, we opted not to leave the house due to the cold, so I actually did get a lot of studying done. Today ... hopefully ... will be the same. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed over the whole International Trade Law preparation, but now that I've spent some quality time with the material, I'm feeling much better about it. Sure does pay to actually DO THE READINGS and MAKE CANS throughout the semester, as opposed to right before the test. I always say that I'm going to to do that for every class ... this semester I did it for one. I guess that's a step forward.

Family law preparation has been slow for me, for some reason. I think because there is just not as much material to cover, so it feels like I should be going over it in painstaking detail. May have to just call it a day soon and focus on practice exam problems. We'll see.

Either way ... 2 exams and 3 sleeps to go before I'm finished this semester. Can't even express how impatient I am. I'm jittering with it, the impatience is leaking out of my pores ... I don't know how Jason stands to be around me right now!

Friday, December 12, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASON!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

AND ... oh yeah ... So EXCITING

Picked up my new jacket today:










Now even MORE SO, I can't wait for spring.

One Down, Two to Go

Exams, that is.

If we're talking classes, it's three down, two to go ... sounds a little more encouraging that way ... like the exhaustion that I'm feeling has been worth a little more.

Ah sigh. Wrote my International Law exam this morning. I love my pre-exam routine ... went to Starbucks, got a YUMMY peppermint mocha twist, and relaxed my way through getting into the International Law frame of mind while fully waking up by going over the practice exams that I'd already done. No new material, boosted my confidence, and made me feel warm and fuzzy.

Ended up being a long test, but it definitely seemed more than fair. The questions were very similar to the practice exams, so doing those in the last few days definitely helped this girl out. Spent SOOOOOO much time writing! One of those tests where I didn't know if I'd have time to touch on everything that I wanted, especially as I was still trying to keep a mind to HOW I was writing it all out, trying to keep the style a little more on the logical reasoning side as opposed to the frantic-rambling-about-material-from-the-syllabus side of things.

I don't like to dwell too much, though, on exams once they're written. It's done. Can't do anything about it now. On to the next one.

So ... the to-do list for crunch time shrinks again:
  • Write my International Trade Law final exam on Dec. 16
  • Write my Family Law final exam on Dec 17
I think tonight I'll get over the exam hang-over by organizing myself to begin studying for Family Law (preferably with my feet up, something yummy to drink, and some kind of festive movie on TV) ... and then I'll have to organize my time between International Trade and Family over the next week.

And now ... a nap (I feel I deserve it ... ha).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

First Exam Tomorrow

Well, I'm just about ready to head to bed. I've prepared like crazy for this exam, although "preparing like crazy" seems subjective at this point. I've spent a lot of time on it, but I'm not sure that all of that time was super efficient.

International law is so tough to put together, especially with so many unanswered questions and no real binding authorities. This will be a really different kind of exam, hopefully I'm on the right track though.

I'm going to try and take 'er easy now ... relax into what will hopefully be a deep and super refreshing sleep.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I SMASHED DOWN THE WALL!

Yay! Must have just been having an off day yesterday ... I pushed through that material that was holding me up, and I'm already well into the next section ... I feel like I'm getting a lot done today. Hooray. So encouraging. Looks like I don't have to drop-out of law school yet.

Motivation is Dissipating

Yikes. For being so organized and getting so much done last week, I feel like I'm hitting the motivation wall now. I guess it's usually the same around exam time, though. Just don't really want to study, and want exams to be over (and want to focus on fun holiday festiveness).

I've been doing my prep work for International Law, a class I've really enjoyed, but I've just hit one spot in the curriculum that I can't get past. My goal for today, get it done by noon and then move on. Maybe a time limit will help (helped when I was little and didn't want to eat my supper ... I don't see how this is any different than that).

If I just can't get the International Law stuff going, I think I'm going to switch over to International Trade Law prep. I've been making CANS for that class throughout the semester, so it will be a far less daunting class to study for.

Sigh. Might have to throw something festive in for a study break somewhere ... I'm thinking ... some kind of baking maybe? Dangerous, since I'll probably eat it all ... hmmm ... must put my thinking cap on. Maybe I'll just put on the Bell fireplace channel (which actually IS playing holiday tunes this year too), and read a little Harry Potter ... that would be a nice break from studying. I could even make my poor-man's version of the Starbucks Peppermint Mocha
Twist ... I've been making hot chocolate (just milk, cocoa and a little sugar), and putting in a little peppermint extract ... so good! Is it bad that I'm thinking about my study breaks before I've even begun to study?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Busy Few Days - Huge Sighs of Relief

Well, with handing in both my ADR Progressive Learning Journal and my Intellectual Property Major Paper, and with my classes all being finished, I'm officially DONE two of my classes, and only have three to go. My to do list is looking a lot better:
  • Write my International Law final exam on Dec. 10
  • Write my International Trade Law final exam on Dec. 16
  • Write my Family Law final exam on Dec 17
AND NOW ... a word about citations.

Yuck. I had a tonne of authorities for my major paper. I thought I was being smart about the whole citation thing by creating a new system for doing them ... tried to be ├╝ber organized ... but I think I ended up spending a good 7 hours total, after my paper was done (which is another story), just wrapping up the citations. Too long. I must find a way to cut this process down.

After 2 years of law school complete, I think I finally understand (more or less) how to use the McGill Guide ... and use it I did ... but I'm getting ahead of myself already.

As I was researching and writing my paper, I compiled a numbered authority list (in no particular order) in a word document. This reached about 60 authorities in no time (yikes).

While I was writing my paper, I would add footnotes, and reference the authority in the footnote as "Authority #", where the # corresponded to the # where that authority appeared on my numbered list.

I was able to edit away at my paper, add footnotes, delete them, etc. and I still knew which authority they referred to (as opposed to previous approaches that I've taken, where I did Supra and Ibid. references while writing, and when I changed the structure of the paper, I had no way to figure out which footnote referred to which reference). When I was finally done with the paper, it was time to address the footnotes.

First, I had to go through my authority list and find the proper citation format from the McGill Guide. This took awhile.

Next, I went through my paper, and began to substitute in the proper citation from the list for the "Authority #" that was in the footnote, all the while keeping track of the original footnote citation # on my authority list so that I could cross-reference easily while adding Supras and Ibids (i.e. If the first time I referenced Authority 1 in my paper was at footnote 22, I would put the proper citation in footnote 22 and write "22" next to authority 1 on my master list. If the next time that I referenced Authority 1 was in footnote 57, I would look on my authority list for "Authority 1", see by my notation that it had been originally referenced to in footnote 22, and I would then write "Supra note 22" for footnote 57).

May seem slightly complex, but it allowed me to complete all citations in one pass of my paper. This was a VAST improvement over other papers that I've written where citation chaos was the norm.


NEXT TIME I do a major paper ... I think I'll take the time, as I add each authority to the list, to actually put the proper citation on the list as opposed to just the author/title/website url approach that I used this time. This could probably cut almost 3 hours off the process. Could be enough for me to downgrade citation from "miserable pain in the butt" status to "tedious, but at least I have a good system" status.



As for finishing my major paper ... this one was really hard for me to "put to bed". I had a lot of things to say, but didn't have the space to say all of them (who'd have ever thought that a 50 page maximum would hold me back ... so crazy). I tried to pick and choose the most meaningful things, present them in a sufficiently general way so as to appeal to a legal reader as opposed to a legal/technical reader ... AND ... tried to keep the focus centered around what we covered in class. Also - it was tough, as someone with a technical background, to know how to inject my technical knowledge without referencing back to some authority from a class I took in University 10 years ago. As someone not super experienced in academic paper writing, this was a tall order. Hopefully I somewhat achieved these goals ... only time (and my Professor) will tell.

So funny how, when I'm actually trying to convey a point of view that I care about, my insecurity about how the paper will be received and understood goes WAAAAAAAY up. While caring about the subject matter makes it easier to write (especially on the motivation front), it sure leaves me quite vulnerable feeling in the end.

On a final note, there was a Jostens Rep in our student lounge over the last couple of days showcasing rings that could be purchased for graduates of this year. I had to really get me head around the fact that I fall into this category. Law school has gone by SOOO FREAKIN' FAST! Once exams are done, and it is established that I've passed everything (heh), I'm 5/6 done ... that's 83.333% done ... that means that I have about 3 1/2 months left of being a student before I'm back out in the real world as a working woman. Crazy. Don't get me wrong, a salary will be a nice thing to re-establish in my life, but it seems like it's happening so fast.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Welcome December!

Holy smokes. It is December.

Usually, I'd be raring to deck my halls with various holiday paraphernalia, but this year I'm opting to focus on school instead. The halls will have to wait.

Luckily, there are a few things that definitely get me into the holiday spirit, without all the grunt work of digging out my decorations.

The smell of mandarin oranges. I'm not a huge orange fan myself (it's a texture thing, love the taste, not fond of the texture, I will still eat them, but I don't LOVE them). Jason bought a box for himself at the grocery store, and every time he eats one, the smell makes me feel Christmas-y.

The fireplace channel on our Bell satellite. Last year it played holiday tunes as well, this year it seems that it's just the sound of a crackling fire ... still OK by me though. Chucking that channel on and listening to holiday tunes while wrapping presents ... definitely makes me feel Christmas-y.

I've already mentioned the Starbucks addictions that I've fallen prey to, flavoured as they are with festive merriment and goodness. They make me feel Christmas-y.

Seeing the Tim Horton's holiday cups around school. Also ... makes me feel Christmas-y.

I'm so excited about our donation drive for adopt-a-family beginning this week. I'm pretty sure that this will give me the ultimate Christmas-y feeling.

Unfortunately, when I'm feeling especially Christmas-y, all I want to do is bake, which both takes time away from studying, and adds unnecessary layers to my butt ... I will have to resist the impulse.

I do have quite a few birthdays to focus on ... December is a big birthday month for my family. I'll have to try and shift my focus ... that may just help.

Now ... all I have to do is get through the crunch-time to-do list (which is shrinking - fa la la la la, la la la la):
  • Go through major paper one more time in an editing spree, and fix all citations, then hand the sucker in tomorrow.
  • Write my International Law final exam on Dec. 10
  • Write my International Trade Law final exam on Dec. 16
  • Write my Family Law final exam on Dec 17
While it is so nice to be crossing things off of my list, I must admit that there is a certain paranoia to holding 25 pages of text in your hands and realizing that it compromises 80% of your grade (as in the case of my ADR learning journal), or holding 45 pages of text and realizing that it compromises 100% of your grade (as in the case of my major paper). Yikes. Where's a salted caramel hot chocolate when you need one?