February 5, 2010

December 16th, 2009 – One of the worst days of my life.

Now, I will admit, making that sort of bold statement about the day I took my tax law exam does out me as sort of a lightweight in the tragedy/bad things happening department.

But just to compare, I would say the six hours that I labored in my apartment, five days past my due date with G, in the middle of the night, after having been sent home from the hospital following the two the most painful pelvic exams I have ever experienced (tmi?), were WAY better than the 24 hours I spent working on my tax exam.

My school’s tax professor is, to say the least, interesting. She’s a brilliant, rather young woman (for a professor) with two children who once told me she used to carry her baby to class in a sling too. The first time I spoke to her I told her I was interested in immigration law and she started talking about open borders and labor markets. I was intrigued, and enrolled in tax law almost solely based on one wacky conversation.

To demonstrate what is patently NOT a gift under tax law, we watched this video (highly recommend you check it out):

Bottom line: If Pontiac (or Oprah) “gives” you a car, it’s not out of the detached and disinterested generosity of their own little greedy hearts, it’s because they want something, ie. advertising. Thus, it’s income, not a gift. By the way, when you find $10 on the street – income.

Anyway, we also periodically talked about Survivor season something, where some contestant named Yau-man traded a truck he won to another contestant named Dreamz for possible future immunity. Later, Dreamz actually won the immunity (and according to his oral contract, owed it to Yau-man), but he breached and didn’t give it to Yau-man. Yau-man gets kicked off the show. Analyze the tax consequences of these facts. Riiiight.

So, while I’m not sure how a standard law school tax class goes, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go like that. I found it interesting and quite challenging, and I loved the professor. I decided not to take the class pass-fail, even though about half the class was doing so, because I felt like I had done a pretty good job studying and could at least approach most of the problems. With 24 hours to complete a multiple-choice take-home exam, I figured I would at least pull an acceptable grade.

And while I did score an acceptable grade, it was only because the exam was so hard that reportedly people who got 40 percent correct were in the B range on the curve. By hour 12, I had so much left to do, including a truly diabolical multi-question problem which I had very little idea even how to begin to approach. I had not talked to anyone else, so I didn’t realize that many people (myself included) were finding themselves simply guessing at answers in the end.

At hour 18, I came home to eat real food and spend a little time with my boys. They went to bed and I tried to get back to it. I felt like my brain was paralyzed. I cried a little. I thought about the consequences of getting an F in law school. I tried to sleep for an hour, but I just lay there thinking about the first F (or D) of my academic life. Two hours before I had to return the exam, I filled in ten or so blank scantron circles at random and headed to school feeling an overwhelming sense of dread.

It was only after I talked about it with someone who also had to randomly guess on questions, and heard that a very smart peer had been cursing under his breath in the library, saying “What?” “Huh?” “Are you kidding me?” while taking the final that I started to feel somewhat better about the whole thing. In the end, I got my acceptable grade and put it behind me.