Energy Bar

Asa, minutes after he received his J.D.

The offending Oakland Convention Center carpet
The Tompkins House Four: from left, Asa, Olu, Emily and JarrellI awake just after dawn knowing what I’ve got to do. Energy transfer. Asa (my secondborn), Emily, Jarrell, Wendy, my friend Rosa’s friend and thousands of other people I don’t know are taking the California Bar Exam for three days, six hours per day, this week. I blend a fresh berry and kale protein shake and head to the pool to do focused laps, calling my mother on the way so she has her energy directed as well. Must be generational. There’s much to recommend that.

Upon my return, a snag. Researching the exam, I am caught off guard by the carpet at the Oakland Convention Center (OCC), where Asa will take the test. From the photos on the website, the aggressive orange-y tone with wavy lines pulsing on the conference center’s floor assaults my senses. What is that carpet? How is it helpful? Is there an exam room with linoleum — why bother hoping for hardwood or bamboo? — or something durable and innocuous in a pleasant blue or sage-y green/grey? People have to deal with orange synthetic carpet energy after studying night and day for months and paying hundreds of dollars (except the test takers whose firms-to-be paid their exam fee) to take the damn thing and probably thousands for the exam prep study program plus all the caffeine, yoga classes and alcohol?

I go to yelp and find that some people recommend OCC, but that’s because of the attached Marriott and the weather. The yelp reviews are old, and probably pre-date the carpet.

Who knew Asa would go to law school anyway? I’m his mother. I did not know. But anyone who has debated and argued a point like Asa from even before he pronounced decipherable words needs to go to law school. No idea yet if being an intellectual property attorney is a terrific thing, but since the upside is hanging out with inventors and writers, I’m in.

(I will briefly mention the urgency of Asa’s birth. This is on my mind because his birthday is tomorrow. He woke me from a sound sleep at 1 a.m. and was born three hours later. He would’ve entered the world earlier that night had the paramedics not been high and thus unclear on how to get to the hospital. Asa makes his point, is what I’m saying.

Which reminds me. Asa and I spoke by phone—which doesn’t happen a lot—a week before the test. He sounded like he was in second-stage labor. Couldn’t answer simple questions. Me: How many eggs in a dozen? Asa: I don’t know.

Not quite that bad, but kinda. I don’t think I’d ever heard him say “I’m totally stressed out” before. The Didion-esque “cool customer.”)

Occasionally, Asa uses the word “surprising” to indicate his mild astonishment at something I wouldn’t think to question. Yesterday, his text about the 200 multiple choice California Bar questions: “A surprising number were really really tough.”

Like he underestimates the Bar exam people’s ability to create mind-numbingly hard questions? What does that mean about my son? I squarely face the reality that he may underestimate the intellectual capacity of a swath of Americans, and that I may be the source of, uh, some of that. Like I’m some genius. (I could’ve been had I not been so “distracted” in the ‘70s, I’m sure of it.)

Asa knows I’m keeping a light on for him. Light is what’s up. Tuesday I was home all day and kept a soy candle lit. Yesterday I had to deal with the check engine light that’s been on in my Honda for three years; stuff was starting to happen. I turned the overhead light on in my pink office and kept it on until Asa texted that he was out of the exam. Today, a combo, for a strong finish.

Text your mother as often as possible during the Bar because energy is huge!

Happy birthday, A!