Broken Links and trying to get into law school

I’ve been busy editing some ancient posts (from as far back as 2006) which had some broken links, no thanks I’m sure to the many site upgrades my blog server has gone through the years.  (Now if only they could ensure that all previous links relating to blog posts update when their system does.. that would have not made it necessary to go to each and every post..)

I was pleasantly surprised by an e-mail from a young lady in Manila who reported these broken links to me.  Thank you, Camille, for bringing this to my attention.  I have tried my best to gather all previous posts related to law school and here’s an additional piece on your question on a one-month preparation for the law school entrance exam.

It took me awhile but I’ve managed to gather the links to as many posts as I can on the topic. Over the years, I have been asked at least once a year on the blog or in an e-mail about gunning for law school. I am also heartened that I have seen some of those names appear in the lists of successful Philippine Bar examinees which did me proud.

Let me just say, though, that my answers to questions of this nature fall more under the expression of “Been there, done that” and are by no means a claim to being an expert on the subject matter. Like the blogposts I have written here, they are my opinions and thoughts on the matter which I am happy to share, more so in answer to a question from someone who strays into my corner of the blogsphere. I am grateful to those who ask — and it is my hope that the things I write help someone in some way somewhere along the way.

Law admissions tests, like any other entrance exam are not really things you can study for. They are administered in such a way that they gauge what you know and do not know, and what your aptitude for certain topics or subjects are. The simpler way to put is if you don’t know it by the time you apply for the entrance exam, even a good guess will not land you the right answer. A guess, however, based on what you already know, will show that bit of knowledge that brought you to a right answer and will work in your favor.

My own personal preparation spanned more or less six months at least (it has been ages!), and I systematically worked through several word power books at least twice through. I didn’t monitor my scores but saw an improvement in my response time. My word association also improved. The brain works like a muscle in this sense — the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Even when you hasten a guess, it’s like training yourself to trust what is instinctive. It becomes instinctive because you learn to take the first thing that comes to mind. Which is where it goes back to what you already know.

I would do word power exercises on a structured basis — do them in the morning for half an hour, middle of the day, and end of the day again. EVERYDAY. I advise against sitting down for 8 or 10 hrs doing this, because you need to give your brain the time to absorb what you are learning. You will absorb more if you concentrate. In this case, quality works more than quantity given your time constraint.

Does it help to enroll in a prep class? Unfortunately, I have little experience in that department because even my Bar review consisted of a four-week pre-week review only. Not out of choice, but more out of the fact that I made up my mind to take up the Bar exams last minute, and only upon the insistence of my mom.

You have to think of what your answer will be to the elementary question of why you want to be a lawyer. I don’t know what question they ask for the essay portion these days, but if you have that first question figured out, you should be good. There is no right or wrong answer here. They are not really looking at the nobility of your aspirations or your dream — this is a way for the school to determine if you can write. The legal profession requires a lot of written opinions and documents. And one’s writing, the substance of it and it’s actual form on the paper (i.e., your penmanship), shows a lot about a person’s state of mind. If you cannot write coherently, you will have a problem with tackling exams on a regular basis because everything has to be explained. Besides, if you don’t have your heart in it, you will substantially diminish your chances of making it for want of passion.

Finally, on the day itself, you have to make sure that you are relaxed and confident, that you have your pens and pencils as required, and that you are going to sit in on the exam knowing you truly, truly want this. Determination and all the years you’ve been alive are your best tools on that fateful day. Do not be disappointed if you find that you guessed more than you were certain about your answers — again, even your guesses will depend on what you already know. You have to trust yourself in that respect. And of course, you have to pray.

One month’s preparation to me is sufficient. The fact that you’re thinking of taking the exam shows that you’ve already thought about wanting to be a lawyer. You’ll never know if you don’t try, and if you don’t quite make it the first time or in your school of choice, that might only mean you were meant to be somewhere else — maybe another school. UP said no to me, but Ateneo said yes. If Ateneo said no and someone else says yes, if your heart is into becoming a lawyer, go where you make it. I have a lot of friends who started in one school and ended up finishing in another. That did not make them any less the lawyers that they are now, just as those who didn’t pass the bar examinations the first time they took it are no less a lawyer compared to those who passed with one take.

It’s your dream, and it’s up to you to make it happen. I have heard of a young man still in high school who wants to be a lawyer some day but whose father is discouraging him from being one because according to the father, lawyers lie for a living. I beg to differ. More so when we look at how we often resort to lies, white or not, on an everyday basis. I wish I could say to that young man that he could be whatever he wanted to be. So Camille, if you want to go to law school in Ateneo, then by all means, go for it! Yes, you can be whatever you want to be.

Good luck! Thanks again, Camille..

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.

Another day

Fall102512 002

I took this picture with my blackberry yesterday because my camera was buried beneath my suit jacket in the tote.  I wasn’t expecting much, but the blackberry delivered.

I should be used to it by now, but it still feels strange seeing the sun just beginning to shine well past 7am.  The sunrise can be as dramatic as the sunset.

I’m trying to scour the net and the travel sites for a suitable schedule/fare to possibly (with a capital P-O-S-S-I-B-L-Y) take a trip home for the holidays.  Typing that made me smile literally.  I wish there wasn’t school for the third grader to worry about or state tests coming up next year.  It would be so much easier if fares times four people weren’t so steep.  I am not pouring my heart into the idea just yet because I don’t want to be disappointed.

Ah, the thought of going home and being with family again.  I’d love to see my newborn niece.  (Another smile.)  I’d love to see friends of old.  (Maybe more selectively this time.)  It would be nice to spend Christmas in Manila another time.

But discussing the possibility of the trip, I did say I’m fine with not going home anyway.  I’d love to, but I wouldn’t be heart-broken if I didn’t get to.  We were  just there this last Christmas, and I even  had a bonus trip last March to help with a few things regarding the family.  After two trips in such quick succession, I think I’ve gotten at home with the idea that my next trip home might take a while.  Or not.

We’re giving it a week or two and if it doesn’t pan out, we already have an alternative plan for the holidays.  As bestfriend Jonathan used to say, it doesn’t cost anything to have a dream.

Basking in the glow of Autumn

fallI finally had the good sense to take out the camera before I reached this curb in our community where this majestic tree becomes visible.  On a day-to-day walk, I end up rushing past it as I walk to the bus stop.  Today, I deliberately took out my camera and had it on the ready a good 50 paces away, so that when I found a good spot, all I had to do was stop, adjust the cam, and shoot.  It’s not quite as good as I had hoped it would be and I guess it’s the fact that my camera is too intelligent for me — there seems to be an adjustment I need to make to stop it from trying too hard to focus.  (Which usually ends up with worse..)

The hurried shot doesn’t quite do justice to what I want to bring out, but it’s one of the better pictures I’ve taken in the last couple of days.  (Could it be that my not stopping fully to take the pictures is affecting the frame?  HAHA!)

As I walked to the bus stop finally, I thought about how I’ve been wanting to walk around and take pictures of the marvelous colors of fall.  Too busy, too cold, no time.  Well, the weather has improved quite a bit but I’m nowhere near the gorgeous colors of fire.

My current header picture is a photo taken in Central Park in the Fall of 2009.  I would love to walk down to Central Park one of these days on the ready with extra batteries and memory cards, a ziploc to put some leaves in and just spend a day enjoying my home city.   I’ve planned time and again in previous years but have never really gotten the chance to.

Another thing I would love to be able to do is photograph the fabulous display windows of the big stores here in New York during the holidays  which make a big deal of unveiling their storefront facades.  There was a time I had taken photos of Bergdorf Goodman in 2007, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Tiffany’s in full holiday regalia which was indeed a feast for the eyes.  (Amateur photographer tip: Best taken at night when the storefront glass won’t show a reflection of the scene outside the store — like you clicking away — plus the display lighting can do wonders to bring out the desired effect that the display was meant to evoke.)

I just looked at my banked vacation days and I stand to lose a week at least if I don’t take any substantial vacation in the next couple of days.  As it so happens, Christmas and New Year fall on a Tuesday, and my company has so generously allowed us the eve of both holidays as an office closing.  So that means the holidays will actually eat up on 3 of my vacation days.

We were actually mulling about a trip back home (again) but it’s a little too late in the year to be still planning and not booking it yet.  The fares during the dates we can go are astronomically high.  Our biggest consideration is that Angelo is now in third grade and can no longer afford to be away for an extended period given that they start state testing this year.  (Audible sigh.)  It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think it’s happening.  The sad thing is I have the time to give.

I will take the vacation days — probably a day here and there.  And I might yet get to go to Central Park this year just to photograph the leaves and the trees and all of Autumn after all.

Switching Gears

Sometimes we set our minds on a long-term goal and work our hardest towards it — planning, starting to set things in motion, setting our sights on a vision or a dream.  Then somewhere along the way, despite our determination, we are forced to switch gears.  Maybe because our circumstances changed, or things just didn’t fall into place as we had thought they would.

Then we realize they did fall into place, and much as it turned out totally different from what we thought early on it would be, we switch gears, we adapt.

We bow our heads in guilt and shame and just accept that we were wrong.  It is not always easy.  Sometimes it feels like it will be a forever struggle that we must mask with a smile, and an unrelenting effort to focus on the happy.  Forgiveness is scarce — forgiving others as much as forgiving ourselves can be such a challenge.

Sometimes people just disappear or let go — and try as we might to call them back, even the staunchest of hearts eventually accepts the reality that sometimes, you really have to just accept that it is what it is.  So again you switch gears.

You learn to work things out alone.  The chatter dies down.  The pain remains, but the whispering stops.  And with the silence, somehow the pain starts to have a numb edge.  It doesn’t go, but it transforms itself to a lump instead of a blade the keeps cutting your soul to pieces.

Then you switch gears yet again.

My Art, My Altered Book

My Altered Book: Multi-page layout - Flower spread up close

My screensaver these days here at home is a simple black and white square graphic of some inspiring words from Kurt Vonnegut:

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.  So do it.”

Indeed.  So I keep trying.  I am actually setting to put this quote on a mini-canvass and put it up on my desk.  Coming soon.

I’ve been working on my altered book which has been on a semi-break most of the previous week.  I was busy trying to catch up with the Artist Trading Card (ATC)  swaps and work has totally exhausted me at the end of the day.  I even left the book at home most days knowing I wouldn’t have the energy nor the time to do any work on it.

I’ve made up the last two nights, creating this multi-page doodled flower.  It’s been tricky cutting the pages but I figured I can always trim it smoother.  The layout is not quite finished but I’ve worked down to the final two-spread background page.  I just need to finish the doodled petals.  I’ve also switched to using Sharpie Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers instead of my usual V5 signpens.  I’ve noticed that the signpen ink doesn’t dry completely when written over acrylic paint, and so far, the sharpie permanent marker has not stained the other page it closes against.

I have been making progress and I know I’ve been saying that I will start journaling and writing my happy stories, but I haven’t had the chance just yet.  That’s one reason the section devoted to my altered book here in the blog has lain dormant.


A challenging week just passed

I thought my weekend had started when I stepped out of the office at 5:30, boarded the bus home, picked up dinner and some eclairs for dessert and I sat down to watch TV and work on my altered book.  I managed to do around 4 spreads of a multi page layout, and I’m just waiting for the latest two-page spread to dry before proceeding.  Then an e-mail came in on the blackberry on a work issue that I had made up my mind to postpone for Monday.  Apparently, only I felt it was the weekend, and others were too nervous to let the issue be.

E-mail came, and I had to answer.  In their nervousness, they failed to see that the  big boss wasn’t even aware there was an issue, and now that they wrote in their defense, he is.  This could’ve been solved and nothing would’ve been taken against them.  But no, some people just can’t keep quiet when they feel they need to put up a defense.

It’s 11pm.  I have promised not to look at the blackberry and just let it simmer.  There should be a work e-mail rule that things that can be resolved on a work week should NOT be dealt with on a weekend.  Like I didn’t mind receiving a nice hello from one of my VP Chiefs of Staff who was in Tokyo, reporting he got my Starbucks mug as I requested, but that he was in one day only next week so we might not see each other until the following week.  That wasn’t work and it was an e-mail that made me smile.  (The promise of an addition to my Starbucks mug collection is always reason to smile. =)

I shouldn’t be venting about work.  The boss himself was away 4 of the 5 days of this previous week.  And that is what’s eating me — I get paid to get aggravated by him.  I hate it when others below him who do not possess that same stature nor moral ascendancy over me do it and make my life miserable.  (Or at least my work life.)

I had been hoping not to have to write about this that’s why I had avoided writing a blogpost of substance all week.  My prayer sticky in the post preceding this is also in reference to all the negative energy that seems to be brewing around me.  During these challenging times, I am grateful for the support of colleagues like the friend I have discovered in my co-EA next to me.  And there are the old reliables like a former second assistant who is more a friend now than a subordinate.

I don’t mean to play the victim.  I can be a real diva with a capital B in the office, and I can stand my ground and not let things through.  I’m human.  Okay, I’m a “taray” human. LOL  But the past months have seen me mellowing down.  Where my fangs and horns would pop out when provoked much like Wolverine’s blades do when he is agitated in years passed, these days, I take a deep breath and I literally say a prayer.  Between the “Our Father, who art in heaven..” to the “..deliver us from evil. Amen.” I find my balance again.

I have taken to answering calls with a standard almost call center like tone saying “I’m here to please” that some people expecting me to bite are getting upset that they can’t make me.  (Thinking about that actually made me snicker…)  I have found validation when during a three-way call, a third party later felt sorry for me for the way my other colleague had treated me during our discussion.  So I knew I wasn’t being my usual bitchy self.  I told her not to worry, the other lady lopping my head off was actually a friend.  And that was the irony of it.

For a week when I should’ve been able to take things easy, I was kept busy working on so many things I feel so exhausted even as I’m writing this post.  Then I remind myself it’s the weekend.  Even if it’s not for them, it IS for me.

The weekend it is.  I look forward to working with polymer clay again as some Christmas tree ornaments I had experimented on last night came out so much better than I had hoped them to and I’m going to be making more over the weekend.  (I think I’ve found the medium for my holiday card this year.)  I’ve been trying to catch up with swap deadlines for Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) both at and
ATC: Zentangled P with watercolor backgroundATC: Zentangled Q with watercolor backgroundUntitled

ABOVE: Zentangled P-Q-R

I’m still learning and I check what mail has come in every day with much anticipation.  I have been learning from the different ATCs I’ve received, and I’ve been developing other techniques and trying to make it work with the resources I have.

I’ve been doing several sets involving elements referring to women.  Japanese women in traditional costume are a current favorite and I am still set on learning how to do kimono origami.

ATC: Beautiful Asian Lady 2 of 4 ATC: Beautiful Asian Lady 1 of 4

Most swaps are “themed” and I also finished quite a set of Vintage Dancers where I used a black and white real photo print of Ziegfeld dancers.

ATC: Vintage Dancer 2 of 4ATC: Vintage Dancer 1 of 4ATC: Vintage Dancer 4 of 4

Amidst this creative streak, the best news was Angelo was named (yet again), STUDENT OF THE MONTH.  (Of course, I’m a proud Mom..)

Again, let me dwell on the happy. =)  (Literal smile there.)

It was a challenging week — not a bad week.  Productive even if heavy on the heart at times.  It can only get better.  Next week will be a better week.  For now, it’s the weekend.  MY weekend is going to be great, and I’m going to try my hardest to make it so.

Artist Trading Card: Vintage Geisha 1

ATC: Asian-Oriental LadiesSo I initially wanted something like an origami geisha which I had seen in different websites, but finding the diagram to work with proved to be a bit of a challenge despite a nice small pack of origami paper.  I decided not to push it instead of risking not meeting the deadline.

For the background, I used Japanese calligraphy on a vintage postcard which I printed as is and then painted over (again) with gold acrylic paint.  I chose the photo from online pictures of vintage geishas and cut it out, decorating the card first with cutouts from chiyogami paper.  Ta-da!

Not much, I know, but I’m trying to develop better techniques.  For this swap, I had to create two of the same or similar cards — so the floral accents differed, but the lady and the background stayed the same.

I’m looking to create those origami geishas one of these days.  I haven’t stopped researching for diagrams and/or instructions.

This ATC is so titled because I have three different images of vintage geishas I want to work with.  There will be another two sets coming, swap or no swap.

On with the happiness journal

My Altered Book: Work in Progress - Happy and Hysterically Happy

One of the problems I’ve had with the altered book is that I cannot drench it in too much water so watercolor has to be applied sparingly from here on, and not without protecting the spine by adding a layer of masking tape.  But I like working with watercolor.  So here’s the work around.

Last night I experimented on painting watercolor on some adhesive labels, printing the outline of letters and cutting them out.  (Yes, letter by letter.)  I actually liked how it came out.

It takes some effort to cut each letter but it was worth the effort.  I also plastered them onto the page without any lined guides or anything.  I like the casual “feel” of the piece.

I am actually thinking I’ll be journaling soon.  Up to this point, I’ve been creating journaling pages and journal prompts by plastering happiness quotes on the various layouts in the book.  The idea is for me to have a book to write about happy thoughts, memories and occasions.  This book is supposed to serve as an anchor during those times when challenges come my way, and I need a ‘reminder’ of the good and all that I’ve been blessed with.

Writing in a journal used to be a means for me to air out my mood or thought of the moment, but this journal is special because it focuses on the positive.  Working on its pages has actually afforded me a daily exercise of browsing for quotes on happiness, which in turn have brought a smile to my face and to my heart.

In the every day struggle of life, we often forget that we have been so blessed, and I am only human to admit that I need a reminder every now and again.

My Altered Book: Work in Progress Cut Out Letters - HAPPINESS

Meanwhile, my multi-page layout is “getting there”.  I’m still “repairing some pages, but I’m actually seeing the word “pop out”.  I’ve sort of stopped a layout or two after this and have concentrated on sprucing up the pages before it.

Another day ended, and another week ALMOST ended. Friday. (That made me smile.) I just wish this headache that’s crowding my head would go away. I’m glad I have a ride home — although it means a stop at the Filipino restaurant for dinner and maybe some supplies from the Filipino store — the car as against a nap on the express bus when I’m feeling like I’m feeling is a welcome respite.

Back to my altered book. I am going to do some “repairs” on the pages I’ve been working on. I completed another multi-page layout today (the set with the tags) by putting a quotation on each spread. They came out rather nicely and made the pages “journal entry ready”. (Pictures tomorrow.) I also love the set of quotes I grabbed from my now favorite quotations webside, The Quote Garden.

My swaps have been put on hold for the moment, but I will be busy writing a few postcards tonight. The Artist Trading Cards will have to wait until the weekend.

The only thing I don’t like about the evenings is that I usually get the urge to work on the altered book as I wind down closer to midnight. So sometimes when I start painting at 11:30pm perhaps, I don’t finish until a few minutes after midnight. I usually just let the layout dry anyway until the next morning.

Working on the altered book has really helped me to focus on the positive. There are moments at the start of the day when negative or heavy thoughts threaten to crowd my heart, and all I have to do is reach out for the book and open to the page of quotes and read two or three of them for a nudge to think about upbeat thoughts. It’s like an extra shot of espresso on the morning commute or anytime during the day.