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A Tale of Two Task Lists, and Other Bar Exam Madness

So here's a story that's a little more personal than what I normally write at TYoH. It's been a rough few weeks, Wormwood, so I hope you won't hold the unwonted intimacy against me, and that the whole mess gives you a bit of a chuckle.

My to-do list has included for the last two weeks an item labelled "Blog about why I'm not freaking out about the bar exam." The entry right beneath it, "Get a haircut," has been equally neglected.

The first admonition springs from a simple truth: since the beginning of July I've felt as if I've not been sufficiently concerned about this "Bar Exam" thing. I'm not wholly convinced that lawyer licensing exists for the service of clients or the public. I consider this whole thing a bit of a racket, and thus the bar exam (pace Anonymous Lawyer) is not something I see as a test of my value as a human being. Failure to pay a protection racket would have a similar blow to my self esteem: sure, I might not be able to do business without ponying up, but it doesn't affect the fact that my customer service is pretty damn good. Likewise, so far as I know my clerkship isn't riding on passage of the bar exam, so failure would just mean a lot more time to study while actually learning a fair amount of real law. Finally, I've done a reasonable if not massive amount of work, and the test remains a pass/fail affair. Intellectually, I know passing is not certain, but certainly within the realm of possibility.

So of course, I thought I was immune from the silliness of bar panic. Which is where the second item on the to do list comes in.

It's been warm here in Virginia, and after a short stroll outside I realized that a month and a half has left my locks full, flowing and quite unseasonably warm. Knowing that I didn't have time to get a haircut (or knowledge of a good barber), I figured that the next best thing would be to attack my head with my trimmers, returning my skull to about this condition. Full of purpose, I grabbed new AA batteries, some plastic bags to line the tub, and my trimmer, pausing only to ask my girlfriend to give me a hand.

And then it set in: bar madness. After all, I'd been studying for two months with all this hair. I'm used to it. When I've not known whether leave and mail service requires an answer within twenty or thirty days, I've run my hand over my forehead, fingers leaving little furrows in my shaggy mane. Shaking my head in confusion over whether a particular power of appointment designated in a trust violated the rules against perpetuities, those locks have shook with me.

It struck me that perhaps these motions had some kind of mnemonic value: that when the pressure was on in the Javits Convention Center, I'd reach up to my forehead and sure enough my fingers would pry the answers from my forelocks. Or perhaps during these sultry summer days, this surfeit of black letter law has overflowed from brain to skull, seeped from skin to follicle. By slicing through these hairs, I'd be eliminating hours of reading, or hundreds of wrong answers on StudySmart...

"Yeah. Trim your hair before the bar exam, and YOU'LL FAIL. It'll be Samson and Delilah all over again."

That was my girlfriend. Apparently I'd been talking to myself. The worst bit, though, was that at that particular moment, her idea didn't seem all that mad. [1]

Just a few more days, dear readers, and it is all over. But until then, the world is viewed through a very distant mirror. And that mirror has been stolen from the funhouse.

As of this writing, I've yet to cut my hair.

[1]: Although I probably need not be explicit in pointing this out to you, dear Wormwood, her "idea" was nothing but sarcasm. A few seconds passed, however, between the hearing of the words and the recognition of that particular tone.


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The human brain requires a huge amount of energy to run. Like most things that use lots of energy it's a good thing to keep it cool - accordingly shave your head to improve your mental efficiency. You may remember that even when I had a lot of hair I kept the sides shaved, which was in truth to ensure adequate academic performance. These days though I just look like I escaped from the US Marines...
Tony- Good luck on the bar exam. I think cutting the hair is a toss-up. Long hair equals power. But baldness equals POWER.
OK...shaving your head is a common sign of trauma! People often do it after the tragic death of a loved one! I feel the same way now that the exam is over!

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