Friday, April 30, 2010

Failing and Perspective

I failed a bar exam. South Carolina no less. I have passed the only other two I have taken (Virginia and NC), but failed this one. Will re-take it in a few months. Unlike the more civilized CPA exam where I hear that one only retakes the portions one failed - in Bar Exam world, you start from square one. I have to pay a new application fee, get new fingerprints, new affidavits from people attesting to my acceptable character and fitness to practice SC law, and then take the whole damn thing again.

My issue with the SC exam was not the exam - it was that I had awful trouble getting motivated to study. The first one - in Virginia - the panic is so great that motivation was not an issue. If you don't pass that first exam, you don't get a license and you can't practice law. All that time in school, all that expense.... And when I took NC, I was less motivated to be sure, but I wanted to relocate and would not begin the process until I got my NC license. Passed that one too.
But taking the SC exam is for business reasons, and they just weren't compelling enough, apparently. I studied, but not nearly at the same level. When I received my rejection letter last week, I estimated that I missed passing by 2 points out of approximately 800. Crap.

To help with motivation this time, I'll post the rejection letter in my office, and maybe keep track of how much money the re-test will cost.

I was not surprised by failing; during the THREE DAY exam, I knew I was making up some SC state law - I knew my knowledge on SC insurance was far too slight -- I knew I was in trouble.

I've told friends that I could also blame the ex for so disrupting my life last summer and fall or I could blame Skippy, the implanted defibrillator. After all, the SCA was 9/09, and I started studying a mere 4 months later - and certainly there were and are days still when I am stunned to have gone through the experience. Stunned to have come that close to death (or to come back from death as a follower friend says), stunned to have survived it , apparently nearly entirely unscathed, stunned again about how astonishingly adaptable we humans are. Who the hell can come to terms with something like this? We can. We do.

Now if I can just pass the damn exam.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nothing and Everything Changes

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) changes everything. And then it changes nothing.

The initial aftermath is so stunning, shocking (no pun intended), far beyond unsettling. And not the purely physical manifestations - they are their own separate category. But mentally and emotionally, one starts with the MD or other clinicians explaining - sort of - what has happened.

And so it begins. First you deal with the immediate crap of it; and in my case, the physical 'crap' was really negligible. Relatively speaking, of course. Relative to others with SCA. Then, the mental and emotional adjustments begin. Initially, you think your whole world just changed. Everything in your whole world just changed. But then again - did it?

I was mortal before SCA. Granted, I didn't muse as often about my mortality as I have done post- SCA, but I don't muse about it daily anymore. It's a little more immediate than it was pre-Skippy, but not dramatically so. At least not today. Some days I guess I still feel like my mortality sits down with me for a visit - but not every single day.

I see risk a little differently. I should have worn a bike helmet before and I should wear one now. Difference is now I do. My risk of falling off the bike is a tiny bit higher (I'll fall off if Skippy the defibrillator fires). The damage from falling now v. then is the same. But I promised to wear one now, so I do.
And I worry that even with a medical green light, I may not find the courage to scuba dive again - that makes me as sad as anything. That is a risk and a fear I have not yet wrestled to the ground.

I never liked ladders; always felt nervous. Still do.

I struggled then with my weight. Still do.

Is my life shorter? Maybe yes, maybe no. Who knows?

Perhaps that is the most profound change from the SCA. A deep-seated certainty that we know nothing. And being at peace with that. Finding a joy in that. In a way, it is astonishingly liberating.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reading Horoscopes a Day Late

Yes, I've been lax -too long since the last posting here.
And this one has nothing directly to do with SCA or near-death or those first ten minutes.

I just sent a horoscope to a friend who shares my "sign". Yes, I think horoscopes are incredibly silly; reading horoscopes is just a waste of eyesight ---- but how bad is it to read your horoscope a day late? If I ever write that great American novel, or even a mediocre one, I'll have to get that in the title. Or perhaps it would best be the title of a country-western song. But I do sometimes read them late - I get to the paper the next day and I STILL read the silly things.

I described it to my friend as the worst horoscope in the history of horoscopes. Here it was:
Sagittarius. "If you're inhaling a whiff of ambition, you'd be wise to ignore it. It is much too easy to overestimate your abilities or [be] too enthusiastic about something that may prove to be false".

As I said when I forwarded it to my Sagittarius friend: They just should have written "Don't bother. Go back to bed. Try again tomorrow".

Yesterday, I was walking on a deserted beach (yes, we have one here - Masonboro Island) musing about my future (an endeavor not for the faint of heart if your heart has taken to stopping). I am a lawyer in my 50's. Here's the funny part - I BECAME a lawyer in my 50's. Before that, I had worked in the business end of health care. Law School was both horrible and exhilarating at this age.

I've been a lawyer nearly 2 years and my work has been business, corporate law, mostly but not exclusively for health care businesses. Yesterday, as I did what I love best - be outside on a magnificent day, surrounded by salt water, cacophony of sounds presented by birds --- feeling sand beneath my feet --- I was considering if this is the work I really want to do. I enjoy it, I think I'm pretty good at it, I can make a reasonable amount of money working not too strenuous hours, but I wonder.

Is it nuts to think about shifting gears again and doing work to protect this coast I love so much?

Thank God I didn't read that horoscope on the right day......