SPRING IN GAINESVILLE
SPRING IN GAINESVILLE
Superstition Mountain Press Phoenix – 2012
Copyright © 2012 by Richard Grayson. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Superstition Mountain Press 4303 Cactus Road Phoenix, AZ 85032
First Edition ISBN #: 978-1-105-79790-3
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
For Tim McLendon
Spring in Gainesville
Friday, March 20, 1992
8:30 PM. After a full week of school, I’m exhausted. Yet I learned a hell of a lot the last five days and have had many intellectually exciting experiences as well as moments of camaraderie with my fellow law students. I’ve just finished my Friday evening devouring of the news. The South Africa landslide in the reform referendum is a great sign, and I was thrilled by the victory of Carole Moseley Braun over Illinois Democratic Senator Dixon in the primary. Yesterday at 3 PM, Paul Tsongas abruptly suspended his presidential campaign, citing lack of funds, and he went out like the classy guy he is. I was livid at Bush’s speech this afternoon lambasting the Democratic Congress and saying
he’d veto their tax bill, which raises rates on the wealthy. Perhaps Bill Clinton, now that he’ll certainly be the Democratic nominee, can run a credible campaign against Bush, but I’m dubious. In July 1988, when everyone thought Dukakis would win, I didn’t believe it. Now, with Clinton’s character problems and Bush’s underhanded tactics, and with the economy recovering, the Republicans will pull off another White House victory in November. The only thing that gives me hope is that if Clinton goes down, he’ll go down fighting – and he can probably play just as dirty as Bush. I didn’t hand in my brief yet although I rewrote the argument between my classes in Property and Civil Procedure today. But I can do a much better job if I devote time this weekend to the brief, and Karin and others are handing in their papers on Monday, too. Civ Pro was interesting both yesterday and today, and Mashburn asked us for suggestions on reforming the first-year curriculum, as she’s on Davis’ committee doing just that. Should it make me nervous that I feel I can understand more this semester? In Civ Pro, I feel I’ve got a surer grasp of issues, and even Property is becoming clear to me. It’s Contracts where I feel at a loss, not really getting the big picture. Con Law is so fascinating that I don’t
care how badly I do because I’ve learned so much. Even in doing my Appellate Advocacy brief, I feel I’m making myself clearer as I focus in on the issues. In a month, classes will be over. Winter officially ended today.
Sunday, March 21, 1993
5 PM. Jay just left for his job at Hardee’s. He was here half an hour. Don’t forget this was only the third time I’ve seen him. Today he was wearing a yellow tank top and shorts, and I’d forgotten how feminine he could look. Jay said the Gainesville Sun today printed my letter, “Top Ten Reasons Not to Pass a Gay Civil Rights Bill,” which was a David Letterman-type parody, but of course I only had read today’s New York Times. I showed him my copy of Mondo Barbie, but he didn’t know what to make of it. Mostly I tried to draw him out about himself, and I learned that he’s been on his own for five years, since he was 18. He got his job at the law firm two years ago “only because I had a 4.0 index.” He and his mother talk every day; she’s separated from her husband, a drunk who disrespected her; “I could never respect him because of that,” Jay said.
His mother mostly worked in the fields and has no education, but Jay says she has expensive tastes and gets angry when he won’t buy her stuff with his credit cards, with which he’s very careful. I like Jay, but a lot of the attraction has faded. Maybe I was so needy for affection – and so was he – that we just came together that night. I’ll probably see him on Wednesday night, when he’s off from Hardee’s. Jay said he gets his hard-working attitude from his mother. God, I can still smell his cologne; it’s too strong for me. Am I trying to figure out how to back off from this relationship? I guess so. But I know that I’m far from being Jay’s ideal, so I don’t expect he’s crazy about me, either. Last evening he worked, so he didn’t call. Yesterday Dad phoned about this time, wanting advice: he’d just picked up the mail and found a $6000-plus check from Social Security. They said they owed him about three times that much, but he was not to expect any money until May. I got off and went on Westlaw to do research for an hour, trying to read the incomprehensible U.S. Code and Florida statutes. Social security benefits are definitely exempt property in bankruptcy, but the trustee might wonder why Dad waited to get these benefits. On the other hand, the income would have been exempt all along I told Dad not to cash the
check and to ask the lawyer about it on Tuesday. It would be a big help, of course, if he can go through bankruptcy and then keep the benefits. Later, Josh phoned in response to the message I’d left asking if he had any Marilyn Monroe stories written. No, he said, “although it sounds like something I would have written about.” Josh told me I should get on the Internet; I keep meaning to find out how I can. When I asked him about his parents, Josh said he spent Friday taking his mother to several doctors, although there’s little they can do for her. He’s trying to get something together to celebrate his parents’ 50th anniversary, although I’ve always gotten the idea that the Weinsteins were barely civil to each other after years of an unhappy marriage. I told him about Grandma Ethel and Grandpa Herb’s 50th anniversary party in 1979 in that Israeli nightclub in Rego Park. They really loved it, and it was just before my parents moved away to Florida, and then, the next year, Grandpa Herb got sick. I have memories of leaving the Café Baba on 63rd Drive on that Sunday afternoon and going next door to the Rego Park branch library, which was open; I read magazines for a while, and when I returned to the anniversary party, I happily discovered that nobody realized I’d been gone.
In today’s Times, I saw an article that mentioned Eldon Greenberg an attorney and advocate for anti-nuclear power groups. Twenty-two years ago, he was Ray Kennedy’s lawyer for the disciplinary hearings about the demonstration against American Express that shut down the Brooklyn College financial aid office. Mark Savage and I testified for Ray, as did Consuelo – that was how she met Mark – and Ray was the only one of the four students acquitted. Greenberg prepared me to testify and calmed me down; I was so nervous about it, but he acted like a good lawyer would and helped me before and after I was on the witness stand.
Tuesday, March 22, 1994
9 PM. My headache faded last evening as I watched – or listened to, from bed – the Oscar awards. Stephen Spielberg’s Schindler’s List swept the awards for best picture and director and a few other categories, including an award for screenwriter Steve Zaillian, Wes’ friend, whom I remember vaguely from New York in the late 70s.
Tom Hanks’ acceptance of his best actor award for playing a gay lawyer with AIDS in Philadelphia was moving because he said he wouldn’t be an actor without the support of a gay drama teacher and a gay classmate he met at 16. I was also moved by the producer of Schindler’s List, a survivor of Auschwitz, who talked about fulfilling the wishes of those he saw die not to let the world forget what happened. Hollywood may be vulgar and crass and stupid, but it sure beats most of America. I slept sporadically, dreaming I was invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the royal family. Today I calculated that I have only twenty more days of law school classes left. I don’t know when I’m going to get everything done. I’m so tired I don’t think I can do any work tonight, and I can barely keep up with my daily work. That’s why, when I got the fall semester grade report and transcript in the mail today and learned the McCoy had given me an A in Legal History, I had very mixed feelings. This brings my GPA to exactly 3.5, so they’ll probably put High Honors by name in the commencement booklet. But I truly doubt I’ll be able to go 3.5 this semester, and I could even get two C’s or C+’s.
I worry about being embarrassed at graduation because Dean Savage would call me up and say just “Honors” and then everyone would know I fell down in my final semester. I’ve had only two semesters when I went over 3.5, and both were in the fall, when I had more time to do my work. My spring grades have always slipped about .25 GPA points. When I saw Sharon, who’d had just collected her two latest book awards, I told her the situation, and she made me see that most people won’t be looking at the commencement booklets – at least not our fellow graduates. People tend not to pay attention anyway, Sharon said, so if they do look at the booklet, they’ll think Dean Savage made a mistake when she said just “Honors.” And if by chance I do go 3.5, it will be nice to have 3.5 in the book. Sharon’s right – and I thanked her. With her very high GPA, she’s one of the few people I could go to with this “problem” – because people with lower GPAs would only envy me and think I was bragging. When Martin and Karin asked me how my campaign for the U.S. Senate was going, I showed them the clip from the Ocala paper. Martin and Barry told me Bar/Bri lowered their price to $895 if one pays in a few weeks. But I wonder if the price won’t get even lower closer
to the time their bar review classes begin and they’ve got empty seats. The leverage I have is that I’m not desperate to take the bar exam this summer. Classes today were fine although Rosalie Sanderson overwhelmed us with lots of Florida reference books in Advanced Techniques of Legal Research. She seems to expect us to be as quick as she is figuring out where to go, and I dread next week’s quiz. Instead of breaking up into groups in Women and the Law, Dowd had us pick partners and decide, assuming we were in a committed intimate relationship, whether we would get married, and if so, if we’d have some kind of contract or agreement and what default provisions the law would supply if there was no agreement. Shay and I agreed to “marry” and not write anything down. She is married, of course, and while I don’t ever intend to get “married” – and I mean that in the sense we did in class today, where we included same-sex unions – as I told Shay, it’s hard to say never. At some time in the future, if I met the right person, I might come to believe I’d like to spend the rest of my life with him. It’s unlikely, given that at 43, I’ve never wanted to “marry” anybody, and I’ve never wanted to “be” married.
For my lifestyle, being single has great advantages. Let’s face it: I’m selfish and set in my ways. Even living alone has never bothered me; I enjoy it. In class tomorrow we’ll discuss single-sex marriages (the text has the Hawaii case from ’93, Baehr v. Lewin, which paves the way for legal recognition there). In Intellectual Property, Hunt went over copyright remedies and sailed through some interesting cases on infringement involving Chris Durang, Abie’s Irish Rose, and the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love.” A month from today, classes will be over. How the hell am I going to get everything done?
Sunday, March 23, 1992
Noon. It’s a dark, drizzly, mild day. In New York City it snowed last night and a jet at LaGuardia crashed into the water on takeoff; it was the continuation of a Jacksonville flight, so it was on the local news this morning. I slept excellently from 9:30 AM till 6 AM. Last evening I read Contracts cases and really studied, reviewing my notes (which I don’t do as much this term) and reading the Code and Restatement. This morning Baldwin breezed through Griswold and went right into Roe. There’s so much
material in the casebook, I’m afraid I’m not very far ahead, but it depends on how fast Baldwin zips through. I left off at Webster, the decision that so outraged me in the summer of 1989. I can remember Ronna telling me that Jordan had gotten her a copy of the case off Lexis and how we discussed all of us learning how to do menstrual extractions so we could help women if abortions were outlawed totally. When I went to see Dean Savage and told her that I wanted to go straight through law school and not go into the joint program at the journalism school because I loved law school so much, she said all I have to do is write her a letter and she would arrange everything. She said my grades are excellent and that she figured I want to be law professor, but I said I wasn’t sure I could keep up my first term’s marks. We’ll see. But at least I know where I’ll be next fall. Dean Savage didn’t blink an eye when I brought the subject up. After leaving the dean’s office, I handed in my paper to Rambo’s mailbox, chatted with Rick and Kevin while I drank a Diet Pepsi caffeinefree soda in the lounge, and then went outside to read Contracts. Davis didn’t get far today, as he got wrapped up in a wonderful philosophical point about good faith and bad faith, the kind of thing that can make Contracts interesting even to me.
At Publix, I ran into Michael K, with whom I’ve rarely spoken since our conversations last semester when we took Jurisprudence together. But we always smile and wave at school. I feel relaxed right now. I won’t do anything for Appellate Advocacy until I’ve spoken with Rambo on Wednesday afternoon. A lot of people seem to be slacking off, although I’ve heard stories that some people, like Erica, are way ahead of our reading and have finished their App Ad briefs. * 7:30 PM. I went back to school early and played around in Lexis for a while; it’s like a museum or library I can explore at leisure. Before class, I wanted to talk to Dowd about the Bindrim case involving defamation based on a character in a novel. I told her I was a fiction writer, and we had a good talk. I brought up “outing,” and she said she plans to discuss that question when we discuss privacy. When I told her I’d read Anthony Lewis’ Make No Law, she said I’d love today’s class because Prof. Kermit Hall would be speaking on New York Times v. Sullivan. Prof. Hall, who has a joint appointment with the History Department – he taught Rick, Martin and Lawrence as undergrads – and is about to become Dean of Arts and Sciences at the
University of Tulsa, was indeed an engaging lecturer. Hall’s book, Heed Their Rising Voices, will be published next year, and as he told me after class, unlike Antony Lewis, he did a lot of legwork in Montgomery. That showed, because he knew details Lewis never mentioned, like the fact that Montgomery judge was a pedophile who had every reason not to rule against Commissioner Sullivan. A lot of my younger classmates don’t know much about what the South was like 32 years ago and were ignorant about the civil rights movement except they know Martin Luther King. Along with covering both Roe v. Wade and New York Times v. Sullivan in one day’s classes – an intellectual feast – I was in heaven today because everything worked out well. When I got home, I was relieved to find my unemployment check and claim card in the mailbox. Today I also got out my letter of application and résumé to Santa Fe Community College for fall adjunct work and straightened out my plans for next year at law school. It’s distressing that the far-right National Front, anti-Arab and anti-Semitic, did so well in yesterday’s French legislative elections. In Germany, neo-Nazis and skinheads attack Eastern European refugees, including Jews, as well as the Africans, who also arouse hostility in
France. Europe doesn’t seem like such a haven from the U.S. these days, although I’m sure there are some nations that are more hospitable. Tomorrow will be a long day, but I may not attend the C-10 tutorials; I didn’t answer the Property sample exam questions. Also, I need to read Con Law and Contracts for Wednesday. The workload is getting heavy so that I can relax only for a day or so, and I’m always in danger of falling apart. Too tired to do more than read the papers and watch and listen to the news, I’ll skip schoolwork for now. I hope to listen to, if not watch, Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound on ABC-TV tonight. I feel a sense of satisfaction with where I’m heading, even if I’m not exactly sure where that is.
Wednesday, March 24, 1993
7 PM. Jay phoned from his house during the lunch hour to say he probably wouldn’t be up to coming over or going out with me tonight because he wasn’t feeling that well. Supposedly his wisdom tooth was coming through and bothering him, but even if it was an excuse, that’s okay. I don’t really want to stay up late tonight and there’s a severe thunderstorm watch in effect. I guess if we
were really crazy about one another, we’d be more eager to spend time together. This morning I went to school early for Criminal Procedure and came back at 10 AM to exercise and read the Times before lunch. Clinton is now hedging on gays in the military, saying he’d consider segregating them in the face of adamant opposition from the services. The whole thing is a crock of shit. He never appointed that AIDS panel he promised, either. I was one of the first people to discover, when I returned to school, that the class schedules were out. The summer is the same as it was, and Legal Counseling is all I want to take and all I can afford to take. The fall schedule seemed puny, despite the promises that the new curriculum for first-year students would open up a lot of electives. I’d like to take a couple of courses with old Prof. McCoy, preferably Legal History Other Than Common Law, which should be fascinating. I’d also like to take a class with Don Peters, probably the new Interviewing/Counseling/Mediating. Liz McCulloch is teaching a new Poverty Law class, and a few other classes I’d consider are Future Interests (Smith), Children’s Law (Fitzgerald) and Police Practices (Baldwin). Baldwin’s also teaching a seminar with a topic to be announced, but it conflicts with Legal History. I think I might risk Probert for this
seminar, Humor/Law/ Lawyers. Other interesting-sounding seminars include Art Law (Hunt), Family Law (McCoy), and about half a dozen more. However, I think we’re allowed to register for only one seminar, at least for now. The spring 1994 list of courses to be offered features Women and the Law, taught by Dowd, and Harrison’s seminar on Law and Literature. Actually, I almost wish I could take a fourth year of classes at law school. I pre-register a week from tomorrow and will put down a maximum number of credits (18) and then drop two courses as I did last fall, when I find out what my teaching schedule at Santa Fe Community College will be. Both Estates and Trusts and Legal Drafting went slowly today, but today wasn’t a tiring one. For the next three weeks, of course, I’ll be back up to fifteen hours a week as Prof. Vieira from Brazil comes to lecture for his segment of Transboundary Environmental Issues in the Americas. The reading is supposed to be available by Friday at Xerographic. Now I have the time to read Woodward’s The Strange Career of Jim Crow, which looks like it will move quickly. I’ve done the reading for classes for the rest of the week, and I could have gotten further ahead if I hadn’t watched Class of ’96 on Fox last night and then gotten into bed early.
There doesn’t seem to be too much on my mind tonight. Rick Alexander told me my gay rights bill letter in the Sun was funny, and he’s about as mainstream as they come, being the president of Blue Key, UF’s big honorary society, which sounds like a poor man’s Skull and Bones. I overreacted when I figured people at law school would be standoffish with me coming out. Most law students aren’t homophobic, and the ones that are, who know me – people I’ve talked to in the past – are too polite to snub me or say anything nasty even if they think it or say it among themselves. However, I doubt if anyone at school has so much free time that they can afford to spend it thinking about my sexual orientation or political views. I’m surprised I haven’t yet gotten any more materials from the Florida Arts Council or the organizations applying for literature grants that I’m supposed to be judging as a panelist. Our meeting is in Tallahassee in early June. Every day I check Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw for cites on Mondo Barbie, and I’ve looked in the latest magazines – but nothing. And no local bookstore is carrying the book thus far. Well, the official pub date is still weeks away, but I really don’t expect much. Michiko Kakutani likes to be hip and trendy, but I don’t think she’ll do a daily review in the Times.
Perhaps Rick Peabody’s D.C. connections will mean better luck in the Post. I wonder if Gretchen will go along with Mrs. Harriman, who’ll be our new Ambassador to France.
Friday, March 25, 1994
7 PM. I stayed up till midnight, reading the Times and the first act of Death of Salesman. Josh called. His father had trouble getting along at home – he got violent and attacked the home-care aide, he urinated into his catheter – and so Josh put him back into the hospital. But Mr. Weinstein is now in Beth Israel, not very far from Josh in Manhattan, so that should make things easier for Josh while he’s there. I suspect that even if Josh’s father isn’t dying, he’ll never be able to live at home again, and I tried to tell Josh not to feel guilty if he has to put his father somewhere. After all, he’s already done a yeoman’s job, one few children of our generation would devote themselves to with more dedication. “I’m sure your father would appreciate it if he knew,” I said. This morning after breakfast, I graded papers by the couch as I listened to NPR and watched the cat sleep in this week’s preferred spot near my dining table. My students’ papers are
improving, and none of the eight I graded had major problems, so I’m happy about that. After getting some groceries at Publix, I returned to the couch and finished Death of Salesman, getting misty-eyed at the end. I first read Miller’s play when I was in high school and I liked it, but by the time I read it when I was in Prof. Galin’s Modern Drama class in 1972, I found Willy Loman and his family grotesquely obnoxious and I disliked Miller’s manipulation and sentimentality. I appreciated the play more when I read it to teach the play in the early 1980s. What struck me most on this latest reading was that in the Brooklyn characters’ dialogue, I could hear the cadences and expressions of my family: my grandparents and great-aunts and great-uncles, and particularly Grandpa Herb although he was nothing like Willy Loman. Neither is Dad, but I can’t help noting that Dad, at 66, is still a salesman although he’s having about as much success right now as Willy is as the play opens. After exercising, I showered, dressed and had lunch – all while a tremendous thunderstorm raged; the rumbling scared the cat, whom I petted and told it would be okay. I’d intended to take the bus to school, but the rain had let up by the time I got out and I walked to school without getting wet.
I’d read those South African cases Klug had assigned once I got them xeroxed, but they were pretty tough going. Klug cleared up a lot of the mystery when he lectured on the South African legal process dealing with getting interlopers, squatters and rightful occupants off property one owns or has possession of. I tried to do the assignment for Advanced Legal Research, but I wanted to be home by 5 PM, and I haven’t been able to finish so far. Yes, I’m trying to remember what I told myself last evening about not getting myself too wrapped up in being a perfectionist. Maybe I can make some headway this weekend, but I just seem to manage to stay current in my law school classes.
Saturday, March 26, 1994
7 PM. Last evening I read the paper and got tired before 9 PM, so I got into bed early and slept soundly, feeling relaxed by the time I woke up this morning. It was a warm, sunny day although I didn’t see much of the outdoors. After getting the Times (although I haven’t read it yet), I listened to Weekend Edition on NPR while doing this week’s one-page paper – on automated transportation systems that control the speed of cars on highways – for my Computer Law Seminar.
Basically what I’ve been doing for the weekly seminar papers is downloading articles from newspapers for each week’s topic and using the articles to fashion my own responses. Hey, it’s a kind of sophisticated plagiarism, but I am doing research, and my papers are more thoughtful than the one-paragraph handwritten papers I see some of my classmates hand in each week. I downloaded articles on robot surgeons and satellite remote sensing for future papers, and I already finished the one for a week from Monday, on computer animations in the courtroom. What I’m attempting to do is get as much work out of the way as I can so I can concentrate on my pathfinder, seminar paper and paper for Dowd. Since 3 PM I’ve read about 60 pages of Cynthia Fuchs Epstein’s Women in the Law, and I plan to finish the book this week and begin my paper. If I can get a rough draft by the end of the week, I can then turn my attention on the work on electronic bulletin boards. I’ve made separate files for my pathfinder, which will about all legal issues relating to BBS’s, and my seminar paper, which will focus on online defamation.
Anyway, I began exercising at 10 AM – the cat came in while I was doing pelvic tilts (for the rear end) – and when I finished, I showered and dressed and walked across the street to rent Death of a Salesman in case the school hadn’t brought it over to the downtown campus as I’d requested. It was actually a good idea because, as I found out later, someone at Santa Fe Community College had screwed up as usual. However, I couldn’t rent the video because the store was going out of business, so I bought it for ten dollars, a good price. I asked the storeowner if Blockbuster had put him out of business, and he said no, it was the fact that the nearby theaters had become dollar movies and that the Performing Arts Center had opened, and there was so much more to do now in Gainesville than when he opened the store a decade ago. He did agree with me that the video delivery system of the future will probably be people ordering movies direct by phone – either from cable companies or whatever phone or computer company ends up with the information-highway franchise. Ivana picked me up at Publix at 11:40 AM; I was slightly late. I enjoy our conversations, as she’s got a spunky spirit. When we got to the SFCC downtown center, Lisa Lynn told me that last week’s Skinhead rally, which
she had to go to as part of a massive police presence, was a bust, with the racists outnumbered four to one by cops and twenty to one by protestors. I handed back papers to Lisa, Ivana and others – Lisa has improved a lot. Zohreh came in late to class, and during the break, she told me she had just come from the emergency room where she and her husband had taken her younger daughter, who now has chicken pox. She doesn’t understand why her kids got so sick from the disease. I told her she should go back to the hospital herself, but she said she’d only be waiting there a few more hours anyway and being in class was more important. The bad part is that she and her husband have no medical insurance – because they’re returning to Iran soon – and this has cost them a fortune. Her older daughter’s face may be permanently disfigured by her staph-infected chicken pox. My students seemed to relate to the plight of Willy Loman and his family. I had gotten articles off Lexis, including the news articles about the ’83 Beijing production. JiaXing knew the actors who translated the play into Chinese and who took the role of Willy. (After class, I showed him a Times review of a Manhattan restaurant that serves
Shanghai-style food like the drunken chicken and other dishes he’d told Ivana and me he’d learned when he went to cooking school back in Shanghai.) I told the class about my own reactions to the play, and we discussed the usual stuff; I showed three long scenes from the start, middle and sad ending of the video. At least my students got to see John Malkovich in another role (as Biff) besides Tom in The Glass Menagerie. Ivana said Dustin Hoffman seemed to be very much like Willy Loman in his Rain Man character – and that was before I showed the video or she knew Hoffman played Willy. For me, the Lomans will always be Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock, though. Next week we start poetry. I lent Ivana the video to watch in its entirety and came back to my apartment after she dropped me off at the shopping center. Hey, I just realized it’s Passover now. I’d forgotten. It’s been years since I’ve been to a seder; I can’t remember the last time. Was it at the Littmans in 1981, when that rabbi from Brazil was there? Mom usually just served matzo, and she made lasagna with the matzo, but our family didn’t have any kind of a seder. I’m sure it’s a big deal at Ronna’s and even Teresa goes to more seders than I do.
I mailed out a postcard to Aunt Tillie today, telling her I’ll call her when I’m in New York in May and letting her know I’m graduating from law school. When I went out to the mailbox at 4 PM, I wasn’t wearing my lenses, so I’m not sure who smiled and said hi to me though I’m pretty sure it was one of the German exchange students in my Women and the Law class. I probably should have gone over to him and his friends by the pool; they’ll think I’m unfriendly. Well, I’ll explain it to them in class. I had that new “harvest burger” from Green Giant – the veggie hamburger. Between two slices of thin whole wheat bread, and with parsley, Spanish onion and yellow tomatoes, and Healthy Choice ketchup, it tasted almost like a real hamburger.
Friday, March 27, 1992
7 PM. I’ve been fighting off a cold all week, but tonight it feels like it’s getting the best of me. I’m exhausted, even though the week hasn’t been that stressful. I just couldn’t face working on the brief today; yesterday I did some minor editing, but the big job is ahead of me.
Perhaps I should consider taking a day off, especially if I’m getting sick. I haven’t missed one class all semester, afraid that I’d need the time in case of illness later. Everyone at school has had colds this term. Mom phoned last evening to say hello. She, Dad and Jonathan went out to the movies to see Shadows and Fog. I’m glad to see Jonathan actually going to movies, which he hasn’t done in the last decade, probably. I realized last evening that I’ve completely forgotten the early part of the term in Civil Procedure. I can’t remember much about the right to jury trial. At JMBA today, they didn’t have any Civ Pro II outlines for Mashburn’s class, but Nick gave me Donna Perot’s for Twitchell’s class to look at and xerox. I hung around a lot today, asking people about registration for fall classes. I may not take Evidence after all and simply do what I did the last decade in grad classes: take electives that interest me. If the law school doesn’t require Evidence, I don’t have to take it, as I may never take a bar exam. Even if I do, I can get that stuff in a bar review course. Some classes I’d like to take for the fall may not be open by the time I register, and I’ll change my schedule if I need to. It’s probably better to register for more credits than I plan to take, the way I did as an undergraduate; then I can drop a class during the drop/add period.
August 18, the start of the fall semester, is a long way off. I spent too much time today musing about my fall schedule when I should be concentrating on this semester’s classes. I followed Julin’s lecture in Property and managed to keep up with most of what Mashburn went over this afternoon. Up at 6 AM, with a jolt – because a dream ended in vertigo – I went to Publix before school and also xeroxed my claim card (for the phony record of my job contacts) and the two certificates I got from American Jurisprudence for booking the two classes last term; they came in yesterday’s mail, and I’ll send the originals to Mom. God, I’m tired. Maybe it’s because I’m sick. Or am I sick because I’m tired? Well, there are 3½ weeks of classes left – plus my brief and the practice and final orals. After that, law school will get easier. I don’t need to push myself. Just the fact that classes go from an hour to fifty minutes starting this summer will help. For instance, even if I took seven credits this summer, which would be fourteen hours a week, it would still be less time in class than I’ve got this term because each “hour” will now be only fifty minutes. Plus, I’ll have three-day weekends. I’m at the point in the term where I just want to get through finals, and I don’t care about my grades. If I do lousy, I won’t be any worse off. I
know that getting my J.D. is not going to be impossible. And if I don’t have the academic record to become a law professor, that’s okay. I didn’t expect to hear from Cousin Jeff after I sent him Grandpa Herb’s diamond ring in response to his letter demanding the coins Grandpa gave Marc. Maybe he and his parents think I was trying to show off my superiority by making that gesture, and maybe I was. On the other hand, I don’t wear jewelry and the ring meant nothing to me. Marty and Arlyne would probably say it was because Grandpa Herb meant nothing to me, but really, what do they know?
Sunday, March 28, 1993
5 PM. I’ve just been sitting out by the pool (but in the shade), finishing the materials for Prof. Vieira’s class and reading two different Florida cases dealing with creditors trying to get the proceeds of a trust. I have a headache and I’ve felt below par all day. Last evening I read for school and watched the news after dinner and then read the middle passages of Thirties/ Eighties off the computer. It will be hard for anyone else to be interested in the diary manuscript as I am, because for me it’s a way of reliving many happy times, especially the life I had on the Upper West Side.
I know I come across as a self-congratulatory asshole, tongue-tied rather than sophisticated, and annoyingly childish and narcissistic, but maybe other people (Phillip Lopate?) will be carried along if they stay with the voice long enough. I’m convinced the book is good enough to be published, but look at how I misjudged the material in Narcissism and Me, which still holds up, in my opinion, but which others found slight, trite and arch. In bed last night, I found a radio station playing a marathon of Lou Reed songs, and I lay awake (though with my eyes closed) listening to Reed’s voice for hours. When I finally managed to sleep, I slept fitfully, dreaming about law school exams and teaching again at Broward Community College and visiting Manhattan-ish landscapes that kept seeming blurry. (“Kept seeming”? What a horrible choice of words.) Up at 8:40 AM, I had breakfast – spelt isn’t that great; it tastes like a primitive grain – and went to get the Sunday Times and to mail my next-tolast unemployment claim. I exercised at 10 AM and then lay down for an hour. Jay never called, so I phoned him at 1 PM and left a message. I guess I should just forget about him because it’s becoming clear that Jay is more polite than he is interested in me, and part of me called him just to be polite, too.
It’s like neither of us wants to be the one to stop calling. Three weeks after we slept together and my feelings were all confused, I still am not certain how I feel about Jay, although I’m pretty certain I don’t want to be his “boyfriend” and I don’t want him to be mine. The differences between us are just too big to bridge the gap of age, race, background, style and temperament. Differences like those aren’t fatal if you’re in love, but neither one of us is in love with the other. I’ll be surprised if I don’t hear from Jay in the next day or two, but I doubt our relationship can grow. Part of me will be relieved if we don’t see each other again, and part of me will feel disappointed. At 2:30 PM, I went over to school and chatted with David Arroyo in front of the bulletin board, where they’d posted the names for Trial Practice in the fall. Nearly everybody in our class, it seemed, who hasn’t been taking Trial Practice this year will be in one of the two fall sections. I must be the only one not interested, and maybe the only student not interested in either the law reviews, moot court, trial team, the Civil Clinic or Criminal Clinic, or acting as a TA in Legal Writing or Appellate Advocacy. I like taking classes more than anything else, and I want to use all my credits for standard classroom work and to use my extra time for my
own dopey interests that are totally unrelated to law. As usual, I’m out of step with everyone else. Maybe I should try to push myself into extracurricular activities, but I haven’t been successful at that so far. I get along well with most people, but I prefer to work on my own; I’m not an organization person. Isn’t that why I became a writer and a teacher? Still, I should learn to function as a member of a group rather than always going off on my own. I haven’t even been active in causes I strongly believe in. In recent years I haven’t been involved in any political campaigns (except my own) or volunteering for good causes (AIDS, the homeless, gay rights, abortion). Similarly, I’ve never been active in writers’ organizations like PEN, AWP and the Authors Guild. Why should I expect anyone to be interested in me if I’ve never reciprocated that interest? And does that explain my relationship with Jay?
Tuesday, March 29, 1994
7 PM. I just got back from the faculty party for seniors, which I enjoyed a lot.
I would have liked to stay longer and talk with people I didn’t get a chance to chat with, but Laura was ready to go home and I not only wanted the ride, I didn’t want her to think I’d abandoned her. She’s not the most socially adept person, and she always seemed to show up at my side. Unlike most of the guys in suits, I had on Levi 301s, sneakers, a checked sport shirt and sport jacket. At this point I feel comfortable expressing who I am. A lot of people didn’t go to the party, some (Brenda, Lorraine) because they don’t want to socialize with teachers after bad experiences at law school, others because they had stuff to do. Lori had said she wasn’t coming because she was kosher for Passover, but in class this morning we convinced her to go. I met Dionne’s husband – I think he was named Dion, too – who’s an artist from New Port Richey, and Bob brought Birgit (who remembered me this time). Martin told some people, including Amy Mashburn, about my Senate candidacy, and I’m ham enough not to complain. Martin hopes to become the law clerk to this Miami lawyer whom Clinton has promised to appoint to the Federal District Court once Rosemary Barnett gets through and this guy’s private-club membership and babysitter Social Security taxes problems are cleared up. Nancy told me she’d staying on another year to get her LL.M. in Tax; she looked at NYU (she’s
originally from Nanuet) but it was too expensive. When I went over to Jack to commiserate about our allergies – he says his just began in Gainesville last year – he seemed really impressed because someone told him I was an author of short stories. Jack, too, writes stories and would like to teach. Marsha joined our conversation and said she ultimately wants to teach law but she would need a federal clerkship first. Marsha has accepted a job offer to do commercial litigation in Jacksonville, and she’s ambivalent about it because her whole family is there and she went to high school there. Doug G seems to be heading for Orlando; he dislikes the congestion in Plantation, where he grew up (near the Broward Mall). He’s one of the few people who, like me, will readily admit to really liking law school. Pam told me she’s going to a small firm in Port St. Lucie, which is too much of a retirement community to suit her, but it’s near her family in West Palm Beach. Nick told us he and Carol are getting married on the weekend after graduation, just before the bar review course starts. Most people are taking the Florida bar, even Nancy, who hates Florida and plans to leave; she said she likes different places and can’t see settling down.
A number of the people there I know only by sight; they’re students who came in the spring term of ’92 and who are graduating early, like Rod. Except for Amy Mashburn and D.T. Smith (who said, “I didn’t realize you were an author”), I didn’t chat with any faculty. Nancy Dowd, Jeffrey Davis and others weren’t there, and I just said hi to McCoy and Weyrauch. I chatted briefly with Donna, Lee, Steve F, Dave G and some others, and I would have liked the chance to talk more with Angelina, Dori, Mark R, David A and a whole bunch of other students. The party reminded me of how much I enjoyed Dan R’s graduation party. When I’m with people I know and feel comfortable with, I can be very sociable. I forget that at Brooklyn College I used to love to talk to people at parties. Last night I studied Advanced Legal Research, and I have so much more to do, I’m thinking of cutting Dowd’s class tomorrow and not coming to school until the afternoon. Rosalie gave us our homework back, and I’ve done well on all of them; unlike most people, I type them and am very conscientious, and if I can get a good grade on the quiz, I’ll have leeway to do a less-than-superb job on my pathfinder.
We’re all a little concerned about the quiz, especially after today’s review session. In Dowd’s class, we got into new small groups to discuss our agenda, and we took up domestic violence for most of the hour. A couple of the women gave experiences of their own from high school or undergraduate days. Melissa said she broke up with a guy after four years when he slapped her once – and that confirms my belief that Melissa has a strong sense of herself and good self-esteem. I read the Times during my time back here, because I knew I wanted to do work tonight. Back at school at 3 PM, I found Intellectual Property boring today as Hunt went over cases dealing with preemption by the federal copyright law; the problem was that he may have had the cases in front of him, but they weren’t in our text and we hadn’t read them. I went from class to the party at “the main dining room” – that’s what it said on the invitation, but of course it was just the cafeteria. D.T., the funniest of my professors, told us they’ve treated us like garbage for three years and this party was supposed to make us forget that. Ionesco died. God, I loved his plays – The Bald Soprano (which I saw in high school) and the others with their silly, profound situations and their wonderful wordplay and sense of the
absurd. I need to feel more like a writer after I graduate from law school.
Monday, March 30, 1992
Noon. I got a good chunk of Contracts reading done last evening, as the new chapter on impossibility of performance deals with concrete stuff I can understand more readily than the usual business details. I watched a little TV to unwind and drifted to sleep at about 9:30 PM, only to be awakened by a phone call from Josh. He wanted to ask about my rental of a laptop in 1988, when I was in New York City, because he needs one that’s at least XT-power for WordPerfect 5.1. I told him a little about what’s doing here; his term at John Jay doesn’t end until mid-May or so. It took me a while to return to sleep, and I was awakened again at 4:30 AM when the smoke alarm went off for a moment (for no apparent reason). Unable to get back to sleep, I finished the Torts reading for this week: the chapter on privacy claims ending with the right of publicity. I met Dan N as we pulled up our cars at school, and he said he’d finished his brief only a few hours before. Most students were present for Con Law, where we finally got through Thornburgh and Webster.
I handed in my brief at the Legal Research and Writing office after the crowd dispersed. Rick told me I’ll probably get closed out of my first choices of electives for the fall, so I’d better make plenty of alternate choices. I was distressed to read in The Alligator that Santa Fe Community College will be cutting back on the number of part-time faculty. I never heard from the English Department chair, which makes me think adjunct courses are unlikely. I’ll register for 15 or 16 credits for the fall so I can drop classes or take a full schedule if I don’t teach. The state budget crisis is a disaster, and it’s no wonder people aren’t taking comfort in the economic recovery when conditions in states like Florida, California and New York are leading to so many cutbacks in services. Outside, I read further in Contracts. Lots of people didn’t show up for class, and Davis told us not to tell them that he has to cancel class for next Monday. He doesn’t take attendance and he’s still using those random numbered balls to call on people. Poor Ryan got called on for the fourth time this semester. I just had lunch and am planning to relax in bed until it’s time for Torts. * 7 PM. I was filling out my course requests for the summer and fall terms as I watched ABC
News. The lead story was the death of an anencephalic infant in Fort Lauderdale. Knowing she had only a few days to live without a brain, her parents wanted to donate her organs before she died and they deteriorated, but the courts in Florida denied this. The next story was about the abortion clinic gag rule sustained in Rust v. Sullivan. I look at the law as a chance to get involved in important issues like these. I can take as many electives as I want in the fall, so I’m going to take subjects that interest me, including seminars. I’d rather do a paper than take a final any day, and it seems like law school may become more like grad school in the seminars. I may not get the broad legal background helpful to a practitioner if I avoid Evidence, Corporations and other “meaty” classes, but my interests are intellectual, and I want to pursue what I’m interested in, especially since the school doesn’t require me to do anything but take the second parts of Property and Con Law this summer and Legal Drafting and Professional Responsibility next spring. In grad courses at Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University and Teachers College, I just pursued my own interests, so why not do it here if I can? Torts was interesting, and after class, I came home, exercised, remembered to go out to get
my pants at the cleaners, and got a call from Mom. She was impressed with the Am Jur book awards I’d sent her and said it was remarkable that I’ve gotten so much recognition for my achievements as a law student when I never got diddly from being a grad student or a college teacher. It shows you how society’s values are warped. If Americans paid teachers what they do attorneys, as Japan and Germany do, maybe our educational system wouldn’t be third-rate. Mom paid my rent for me, she said. I’m tired now, so I’ll finish the newspaper and then lie down. Hopefully I’ll fall asleep during the Oscars.
Wednesday, March 31, 1993
Noon. I need to write because I’ve just had a horrendous experience at registration. I’m so stressed out, I don’t want to eat lunch until I can calm down. The first problem was when all the Counseling and Negotiation courses closed out. I kept adding stuff but then had to subtract other classes that conflicted. Probert’s Humor seminar closed out while I was three people away from registering, and then Art Law and
Police Brutality closed, and I frantically put together a new schedule which didn’t go through because of conflicts. When I put in the revised schedule, I ended up leaving off Children’s Law and so I had only ten credits. Deep breath. Well, I’ll pick up another two credits in the fall during drop/add. I took Police Practices with Baldwin, Nagan’s International Law, McCoy’s Legal History and a seminar in Law and Society with Moffett. All my classes are before 10:10 AM and after 4:10 PM, so at least I’ve left a big gap in the middle of the day to teach at Santa Fe Community College. It’s really not so terrible, and I’m sure I can pick up another seminar or class in the fall. Maybe I’ll even take a class at the grad school. It was just so stressful to register. I can feel the adrenaline going through my body. They won’t let anyone go through again until drop/all this fall, and I can understand why. Well, at least I got a good night’s sleep last night, as I was out from 10 PM to 7 AM. This afternoon I’ve got three classes in a row, and if I can get through them, it’ll be pretty good. I need to avoid going crazy over something as stupid as registration. After all, I’d be happy to take ten credits in the fall if I could. Deep breath, kiddo; relax. *
7:30 PM. I’ve just exercised lightly to a Homestretch video because I didn’t want to go for two days without working out at least a little. The stress of registration made this a difficult day, but I got through all of my afternoon classes. I’ve been surrounded by people with colds, so I’ve been doubling on vitamins even though I know they probably won’t help; if a virus can get me, it will. Perhaps I’ve forgotten being overwhelmed last semester, but I feel overwhelmed by the work I have to do from now till the end of the term. I didn’t even get to read all the material D.T. Smith covered today. But you know what? It didn’t inhibit my understanding. Dr. Vieira was particularly interesting today, as we began discussing Amazonia. His city, Manaus, has more than 1.3 million people – yet how many Americans are aware it exists? Watching the pictures of Bosnian Muslims being crushed as a few of them frantically tried to claw their way onto UN convoys, I thought of the Nazi cattle cars to concentration camps. What any of those Bosnians wouldn’t give to trade their situation for mine, huh? I’m so lucky. I had nice conversations with friends today. Karin’s registration was as traumatic as mine, but at least we’re taking two classes together. Dave G, a real intellectual, told me he recently
discovered Camus, and we discussed The Plague. Carla, who still has spots but feels okay, told me how sick the chicken pox made her. And I discovered what other students are taking; it’s fascinating to see how people’s interests differ. The Alachua County Commission did pass, 3-2, the gay rights ordinance, but once the voters get to repeal it, they will. Besides, it’s effective only in unincorporated areas and not in Gainesville itself. Well, tomorrow’s April, and I guess I made it through the first quarter of 1993. If I can make it through the next four weeks, I’ll be fine. I’m more concerned with the pressures of the Legal Drafting final, the book reports and Vieira’s final than I am my regular end-of-term final exams.
Wednesday, April 1, 1992
4 PM. I’ve got my practice orals in a couple of hours. So I need to get dressed in “courtroom attire” and take myself to the room where Greg and I will be doing our arguments. I’m slightly nervous, but I’m sure I’ll be fine.
As a teacher and someone who’s spoken in public and before TV cameras, I’m comfortable in the limelight, and usually I can think on my feet. I’d rather be peppered with questions than have to give a speech. I’ll read over the material about oral arguments, but I’ve already read Greg’s brief, which was well-done, and my own stuff, and prepared a little outline and a few notes. While I fell asleep at 10 PM last night, I had my usual problem of getting up in the middle of the night with my mind racing down the Daytona Speedway, so I was tired today. At school early, I read Cruzan and the notes following the case, and I wasn’t disappointed as Baldwin went over Bowers v. Hardwick. He even brought in a little pamphlet the State of Florida published called “Homosexuality and Citizenship” and said it contained a glossary of terms, from which he read some entries: “Dreamboat: an attractive homosexual.” Baldwin argued the case against this absurd “Purple Pamphlet” and he said most were destroyed, so his copy is a collectors’ item. I’m glad to have him as a teacher, but I think it’s even better that conservative future corporate lawyers be exposed to Baldwin’s views. Fall registration started today, and there was a crush of people in front of the lounge. I expect I’ll get closed out of classes when I register tomorrow morning.
Before Contracts, I read the newspaper; I have yet to do any of this week’s reading for Property or Civ Pro, but I figure I will have time tomorrow and Friday (when my row is “on” in Civ Pro). We switched rooms with the other Contracts section for April Fools’ Day, although some of us, like Judy and Karin, were feeling uncomfortable. But the joke went well. It was funny to see Harrison’s face as he realized we were not his class. When Mike W told him, “You must be in the wrong room,” you could see Harrison wondering about it for half a second. He was a good sport, as was Davis, who told us exactly what Harrison did: the unexpected silence when he walked into the classroom was a dead giveaway that things weren’t normal. I came home at 11:30 AM, had lunch, did aerobics, showered and tried to prepare for tonight. Greg and I are scheduled for 5:50 PM, and it will be over in half an hour. * 7 PM. Just got in. The orals went okay, and I have to get through only the real thing before Harris and two lawyers or judges a week from now. The criticisms I got were, in a way, compliments, at least as I perceive them. I’m not an effective advocate, but I don’t intend to argue cases on appeal. They said I was too
casual, not formal enough, and I used “I” and “you” inappropriately. That’s because, after years of being interviewed by the media and lecturing as a teacher, I’m used to being the center of attention when I’ve got a camera taping me or I’m standing behind a lectern. My personality comes through too much, and no client wants his lawyer to be a “personality.” Now that there are three weeks to go of my first year of law school (I’ll handle the finals on my own), I feel relieved that I’ve gotten through okay and have avoided “thinking like a lawyer.” I’m a writer, a critic, a performer, a storyteller, a teacher. Greg actually was much better than I was, especially since he got thrown harder questions. I want to be eloquent, and that doesn’t work in the cold logic judges want to see. Actually, what really bothered me about school tonight was to see that many courses I wanted to take in the fall are closed, including all three Tuesdays seminars: Media Law, Art Law and Police Brutality. I have to start all over again and make up a new schedule tonight. I’d better get to school early tomorrow.
Saturday, April 2, 1994
7:30 PM. I just remembered I need to set the clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Savings Time. It’s a sign of my crazed behavior that I think: God, I hate to lose that hour. Another sign of stress is the cold sore on the side of my lip. I can’t imagine what else could trigger my dormant herpes simplex (type one) virus, but hopefully, it will go away. I’ve been working on my paper for Dowd, and I think I’ll have it finished by tomorrow – or by Monday at the latest. The trouble is, this week I’m not going to have much time to work on my seminar paper or pathfinder. I did the reading for Women and the Law this week – okay, I skimmed it. Yesterday I saw Dowd pull out of her driveway (she honked her horn to say hello); apparently, she lives just the other side of Publix. I wish I weren’t a writer because I know I’m revising the paper too much. Anyway, I just need to write the third of the paper that focuses on Epstein’s book. (If I have a question, I guess I could ask Cynthia since she remembers me from MacDowell.) This morning it was chilly, but it turned into a beautiful, cloudless, 70° day. Before Ivana picked me up, I managed to read the Times and exercise. The cat came in early and fell asleep on a chair; it left when I got back home from school.
I really enjoyed teaching today, exposing my students to poetry. It’s also a pleasure when I see them “getting it”: it’s a thrill when someone understands that when X.J. Kennedy writes about someone sticking his tongue out at a priest, a student picks up that it’s to receive the communion wafer. I got six papers, which will make this week’s grading not too bad; another student said she’d mail me her paper. I’m grateful for Ivana’s rides back and forth to the SFCC Downtown Center and I value her friendship; she’s someone I enjoy talking with. In the mail, as I expected, was a rejection from Stanford. The letter said over a thousand people applied for ten Stegner fellowships, so my odds of getting in were pretty bad. I also am not being considered for jobs at Sequoia and Yosemite Community Colleges in California. It’s obvious I wasted energy, time, paper and postage in all my efforts to find a teaching job, and I’ll be very selective in future applications. Also in the mail, I got the confirmation for me, Ronna and Teresa at the reunion and a parking lot pass for Brooklyn College. In today’s Times, by the way, they printed the names of winners of the annual contest Barnard College has for high school girls who are creative writers. Again this year, the winner (and one of the runners0up) was from Midwood
High School, another of my alma maters, and I bet Sharon was her teacher. Anyway, I’m faced with the problem of Life After Law School. If I had more money, I’d definitely take the Florida bar exam in July. I need to apply by the first of May, but if I do, the bar application will cost $725, the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam another $175, a bar review course is $600, and I’d have to rent a car and hotel room in Tampa for two days. I currently have $1500 in the bank, and the cost of taking the bar exam would be at least $100 more than that. I can’t see how I could do it. I suppose if my fondest wish were to be an attorney, I’d manage to find a way; after all, I’m flying to New York City for my BC reunion in May. But for me, I don’t think it’s worth the price right now. I’ll think about it some more, but of course I can always apply to take it in February. Now that I’ve got to face the fact that no deus ex machine solution will rescue me, it’s going to be time to figure out where I go next: New York City? Back to South Florida? Tallahassee? Orlando? Without a job, I see those as my four alternatives. I don’t have the balls to move to California or Arizona on my own without employment waiting for me there.
Yes, part of me wishes I could stay here in Gainesville – now the joint M.A.M.C./J.D. program I gave up doesn’t look so bad – but I’d also like to move on. (Still, I know that I can always return to grad school at here at UF.) I’m no worse off than I was three years ago: the student loans I incurred are more than offset by what I’ve learned and experienced in law school and in Gainesville. Mom called tonight and we chatted till I needed to pee very badly. I haven’t told Mom I probably won’t take the bar exam. I know it will upset her, but that’s her problem.
Saturday, April 3, 1993
7:30 PM – although I’ve changed my clock radio and microwave to read 8:30 for Daylight Savings Time. I didn’t sleep much at all last night, and today I’ve been tired, fighting off a cold. Still, I managed to make one pass at reading all the Legal Drafting final exam materials – although I had to skim the Uniform Partnership Act statutes – and I finished Patricia J. Williams’ The Alchemy of Race and Rights, which not only gave me a lot to think about but has revived my interest in writing a similar mélange of autobiography, diary, social criticism and fiction. Williams is my age, and she’s half-crazy – which
is to say, in this society, she’s saner than the vast majority of people. Last evening Mom and Dad competed to see who could tell me the most Jason horror stories from his week of living with them while Clarice and Marc were out of town. My impression is that Jason has a serious personality disorder, which if left untreated, will soon get him in a lot of trouble, perhaps with the criminal justice system. Just before Jason’s visit, Jonathan wisely took all the cash that he had in the house and put in the bank. Jason not only went through closets and drawers but he appropriated stuff – like my shorts and my 2 Live Crew album. Jonathan heard him moving around all night. He got fired from Chuck E. Cheese because “a girl customer complained after he told her she had a nice butt.” “That’s sexual harassment,” I informed my parents. Dad agreed and said that Jason is “a creep.” Dad wanted him to know that Jason wasn’t fooling him when Dad drove him to school and picked him up every day. “Yesterday I purposely got there 25 minutes before school let out and he was waiting outside,” Dad reported. “He comes in the car and says, ‘I had a super day at school today.’
“I said to him, ‘Jason, on a scale of 1 to 10, rate your attendance this week.’ ‘An 8,’ he says, and I said, ‘I think it’s more like a 5.’” He makes up stories about girlfriends and fights he had and he refers to Marc’s minivan as his own car. Mom feels sorry for Clarice, but Dad says he feels sorry for Marc and understands why Clarice’s last husband couldn’t get along with Jason. To me, it sounds like he believes his lies the way Nicole did. Dad dropped Jason off at a friend’s house for the weekend, but of course the kid could be anywhere. Clarice and marc get home from Vegas tomorrow. I spoke with Mom and Dad a while, long enough so that China started barking because George walked in with Jonathan. You’d think that do would get used to George since he’s there every Friday night for the past eight years. It’s pretty comic. (Oh yes, that reminds me: Mom said Jason teases China by splashing water in her face even after Mom saw him do it once and told him to stop.) Dad got a $1075 check from Social Security, and they’re going down to the office on Monday. Yesterday I left a message on Jay’s machine, which is probably why he called me early this afternoon, between his first workout at the
health club across the street from here and taking his sister to work. Jay couldn’t talk long, said he’s call me back later but didn’t; however, I didn’t really want to see him anyway. I think we’d both like to end the relationship but are too polite to stop returning the other’s phone calls. So I’ll be the bad guy: if he calls tonight, I won’t answer, and if he ever calls again, I won’t call him back. Perhaps we’re both a little embarrassed about sleeping together on our first date four weeks ago tonight and then again the following Wednesday. It does feel odd that I got intimate with somebody I didn’t really know – but, hey, it happens at least once to everybody. At least I know I can still function in a sexual relationship and it makes me want to develop an intimate relationship with someone I can relate to better than I can with Jay. Anyway, for the next three weeks, I’ve got the work for Legal Drafting, Transboundary Environmental Issues, Race Relations, and my reading for my three other classes to keep me very busy. I got my unemployment check today, and the attached stub said my eligibility for extended benefits after my next – and last – regular check will be sent to me in the mail.
Saturday, April 4, 1992
7 PM. I fell asleep during McNeil/Lehrer last evening at the ridiculously early hour of 7:45 PM and didn’t awaken till 11½ hours later at 7:15 AM today. Rarely have I ever slept for so many hours. Obviously, just as I’d been saying all week, I was in desperate need of the rest. I had many nourishing dreams, from which only a few fragmented images remain. But I felt rejuvenated this morning. Today I spent reading Property, mostly the final section on Landlord and Tenant. Julin will probably get to it only in the remaining four days of class – and he may not get there on Thursday – but Jim told me it’s always one of the four sections given equal weight on Julin’s final. The reading was heavy, but I supplemented it with Emanuel’s, and I like feeling I can know one section of a course well. A lot of Landlord/Tenant is familiar to me as a longtime tenant; since 1979, I’ve signed plenty of leases. First there was the apartment in Rockaway, then the condo in Sunrise, the apartments in North Miami Beach and Lauderhill, the student housing at Nova, and the three leases at Sun Point Cove before this apartment’s lease. Plus,
living with Teresa in the real-estate-crazed market of Manhattan during the 80s taught me a great deal by osmosis. Tomorrow I’ll read Con Law and probably stick to that. I’ll have time to read Contracts for Tuesday and Thursday, and even though I’ll be called on for the cases on misrepresentation in Torts on Monday, I can leave school after Constitutional Law at 9 AM and have six hours before class, plenty of time to do the reading carefully. This week I need to begin preparing for finals, and today’s Property reading was part of that effort. I went out only twice today. Before 8 AM, I walked to the post office to get the papers (I also buy the Gainesville Sun on Saturday to get the TV book) and buy stamps. On the way I saw a little white dog that seemed like it was lost. I tried to get it to come to me because I saw it had a collar with tags, but the dog wouldn’t stay still when I approached. (Cheers just rang out from the stadium – a baseball game?) And at 10 AM, I went out a second time to buy $60 worth of groceries at Publix. Other than that, I did aerobics and stuffed my face and read. I’ve already turned the three digital clocks (my radio and two microwave ovens) an hour ahead. Maybe I can get up at 4:30 or 5 AM this week. (Another round of crowd cheers.) It’s April 4, two months before my birthday. No one here knows when my birthday is, of course,
so I’ll probably ignore it. I’m looking forward to having more time to myself here in Gainesville, especially during the May intersession. I went away for the long Christmas break and the week of spring break, and now I need time to clean my apartment and just get myself moving around town the way I did in the first week I got here, before law school orientation. First, of course, I have to get through 2½ weeks of classes and 2½ weeks of finals. Already I feel sleepy again. Part of it is that I have nothing to write. I’ll just freewrite. It occurs to me that Ronna’s brother Billy might be in my Law and Psychiatry class this summer since they let grad students take law school electives; I’d like to see Billy again. I haven’t bumped into him although we’ve both been living in Gainesville the last eight months. In a way, I wish Teresa’s parents, in New Port Richey for the winter, would come by for a visit. I miss the contact with non-law-school people. Maybe next year, or even starting this summer, I can make friends here outside of law school. Several of my classmates are going to be taking grad school classes. We’re allowed to take two courses up to six credits, and I’ll probably want to do that. Maybe I could take a grad class in English. Why not? The AWP Newsletter had some jobs that I felt like applying for, but maybe I’ve already burned my college English teaching bridge behind me.
Because of the budget cuts, I probably won’t get the chance to teach at Santa Fe Community College in the fall, which is a pity. As a college student, I keep getting slick material from Chrysler, Honda and other car manufacturers with special rebate deals. My Bonneville’s odometer should turn over after I hit 100,000 miles in the next few months, and I pray the car will keep going. I can’t complain at all, and I try to drive it sparingly. It takes me about five minutes to get to school in the morning although this past week was even faster because the elementary school up NW 5th Avenue was closed for spring vacation; thus, didn’t have to slow down to 15 mph. Ronna will turn 39 a week from Monday, and Teresa will probably feel traumatized about hitting 40 two weeks after that. I’m disgusted with Clinton again, and right now I probably wouldn’t vote for him. Of course, that would mean helping Bush. I’ll change my mind in November. The latest polls have, in a threeway race, Bush ahead with 45%, Clinton at 25%, and H. Ross Perot at 22%. I’m hoping Clinton won’t win in New York on Tuesday but I’m resigned to his taking the New York primary and thus the nomination. To me, he’s a walking disaster area.
It’s not only the “character” issue but the way he panders to voters. He might not be much of a change from Bush. Still, any Democrat would be an improvement. At least Congress will get a lot of new faces; I just hope not too many are right-wing Republicans.
Monday, April 5, 1993
7 PM and it’s still light out. I’ve been cranky today, the result of not enough sleep and disgust with law school. I read the Crim Pro material for tomorrow’s makeup session, but there’s more to read, and I dread the idea of doing that outline and questions for Legal Drafting. I was disgusted that Lynn handed me back my rewrite of the contract with lots of criticisms and a warning that I’d better have another conference with her before the final. I hate the final in that class, and I know I’m never going to draft another partnership agreement, so I’ll probably end up with a bad grade. My antipathy towards all commercial transactions makes this a bad choice for me; last term they got to do a divorce agreement, which I would have enjoyed more. I feel very much like blowing off this whole semester, and I probably will. I bet I get my first
C and maybe more than one. Who fucking cares? Well, I did say I felt cranky. I don’t have the patience for law school today. Both Vieira and Smith went slowly, explaining the Amazon pact and the application of class gifts to the Rule Against Perpetuities – no, it’s the other way around – respectively. I now have people sitting on all sides of me with bad colds, so fighting off this virus seems useless. And I felt resentful and bored in Legal Drafting. When I got home at 5 PM, there were two messages. Seeing them annoyed me, but both were nice news. Alice called from her office, where she found a copy of Mondo Barbie on someone’s desk and said it looked wonderful. Ronna called from Orlando and I phoned her back, interrupting her preparations for tonight’s seder. Billy is driving back here tomorrow, but Ronna wants to stay for tomorrow’s seder, so she will try to drive back with Melinda on Wednesday. She can stay here or at their apartment on Wednesday night and go back on Thursday, either taking the train or bus or having her mother pick her up. I really look forward to seeing Ronna and to taking off from school. While I hate the idea of being absent, I’ve been much too rigid about school attendance. Ronna said she’d speak to me tomorrow and I wished her and her family a good Passover.
I’m feeling so antsy today. I tried to write down some ideas for the partnership agreement outline, but I couldn’t get far. I haven’t read the newspaper yet, so maybe doing that will relax me. Does Jay have anything to do with my bad mood? I’m not sure, except otherwise why would I even think of him? How do I feel about Jay? Right now I’m angry, although I feel angry in general. Why am I angry? (This is the night of the Four Questions, so I’m entitled to ask.) Well, I guess I feel used. Right now I am sorry I slept with him. I shouldn’t have gotten sexually intimate with someone I didn’t know. And I guess I’m pissed because we weren’t able to resolve the relationship. It was Jay who was too tried to come over the Saturday night of the storm and the Wednesday after that, and I now am not sure when he decided he didn’t want to see me. Not that I was so sure I wanted to see him again, either. Oh, I guess I’m just mad things didn’t work out. It’s not his fault he’s him or my fault I’m me – but I’m more upset that I was so lonely that I ended up in bed with the first guy who came along. Maybe I didn’t realize how lonely I felt before. Does this have anything to do with why I’m in a bad mood – or why I’ve been having insomnia?
Maybe. Well, it also means that I’m growing and pushing up against a barrier; it’s painful but it’ll lead me to a better place. At least I’m able to write some of my feelings down – the ones I can feel, anyway. I need to get away, to give myself some breathing room. Maybe Ronna’s visit will help me see myself more clearly. None of my friends – only my parents, Marc and Clarice – have visited me here and seen my life, such as it is, in Gainesville.
Wednesday, April 6, 1994
4:30 PM. I couldn’t face Hunt’s class today. I hate to cut, but today doing it was a smart move. I yawned dozens of times in Klug’s South Africa class and on the walk home. I’ve been having another off day, and I need time – not to do work on my projects, but to keep from getting so stressed out. My chest hurt as I walked to school this afternoon and for a moment it occurred to me that I might be having a heart attack. Oh well, I thought, I hope if I do, I can get to the law school and be around people if I collapse. And I thought, if I die, they will probably award me my degree anyway, and my parents will come up on stage at commencement to get my diploma as everyone applauds.
But of course I wasn’t sick, only tired. I did fall asleep early yesterday; however, I slept fitfully and lightly and would wake up for hours at a time. The problem is that I’ve got so much on my mind. I slept so soundly at my parents’ house in March and at Ronna’s apartment last May because I didn’t have so many things I had to juggle. Today, before I got up early and showered, my final dreams were about being harassed by the photographer from the Sun. After breakfast, I put an ice pack on my face because my eyes felt so puffy, but no photographer ever showed up. At 10 AM, I left a message with Laura Kauffmann at the StarBanner, but she hasn’t returned my call, leading me to believe they killed the story or else they’re running it without the photo. Either way, I don’t much care by this point. I got the 10:15 AM bus, which left me off by the stadium, and I walked – I was without my lenses today and walked around in a haze again – to the Reitz Union. Trying to find the auditorium for the financial aid exit interview, I ran into Alison and then Greg, Marc and Doug K, who’d driven over together. The thing didn’t take as long as I’d expected, and we just had to hand in some forms. *
5:30 PM. Teresa called while I was writing. She probably preferred to leave a message, and I should have let her. She got my letter about the reunion, and already she’s being difficult. She won’t come up to Manhattan to pick up Ronna (and me?), but she doesn’t want to go home alone and she doesn’t want to go to the reunion by herself. When I suggested she meet us at Susan and Evan’s near Brooklyn College, Teresa even balked at that. At this point I’m almost glad Teresa has to give up her house to the family renters the second week I’m there; if Ronna will have me, I’d rather stay with her anyway. At times Teresa’s often abrasive personality made it hard for me to live with her on West 85th Street, and she doesn’t seem to have changed. She remarked with bitterness that today was Brian’s birthday and told me that she didn’t really like her time at Brooklyn College. There are some people who give off attitudes that make you want to run away from them. I don’t think I could live with Teresa again unless things changed. I think I’d prefer living with my parents, who leave me alone a little more. For example, Mom doesn’t get offended when I make my own meals or don’t join her and Dad in an activity. Oh well. I had Healthy Choice chicken fajitas for dinner and listened to NPR on the retirement of Justice Blackmun. He’ll always be remembered for Roe
v. Wade, but his finest opinion was his dissent in Bowers v. Hardwick. I hope that before I die that Blackmun’s view of sexual privacy will one day be the law of the land. Anyway, I left off writing about the student loan exit interview. We just had to hand in some signed forms and watch a Chase-made video that tries to scare you into paying. Doug drove us back to the law school in time for Greg and me to get to Dowd’s class. Frustrated that our discussion of child custody was going over the same ground, I suggested the possibility of making divorces harder to get for people with kids. That was derided by everyone, and I myself think it’s a terrible idea. But the custody situation is so maddening, I even brought up the possibility of recognizing reality and having fathers divorce their kids as well as their wives, because most never see them much or support them financially. Back home, I let the cat out and assumed the message on my phone was from the reporter. But it was Scott, and I called him back after I forced myself to work out (lightly) to a Body Electric videotape and had a big lunch. Scott wanted to know who was coming to the reunion. He thought $65 was very expensive (odd since he makes a six-figure income, though he probably has high expenses), but in the end, I guess I convinced him to come. However, he
said Joon would have to stay home with the baby. Scott related some gossip about a married Brooklyn College girlfriend of his who called him up out of the blue. I think I remember the girl, Silda, but I’m not sure exactly. Scott told Joon about her call, and Joon got upset. We didn’t talk long, but I disabused Scott of the notion he had that I’m living off my investments. When I told him I’d gone through a bankruptcy, Scott said, “That’s no life you have.” Maybe – but Scott’s had the same job for at least fifteen years, and to me, that’s no life, especially when his job seems so unfulfilling to him. I am having a lot of trouble getting a grasp on Klug’s course, and I’m reconciled to doing badly on Friday’s exam. The best I can hope for is that others are just as confused as I am. My lenses came and were in the rental office; I put them on and they feel fine although I’m not used to wearing them.
Tuesday, April 7, 1992
8 PM. If it’s Tuesday, I must be sleep-deprived. I got under the covers at this time last night and
listened to a radio concert of music related to death. Then I listened to a PBS show, the first part of a series on the history of the computer. Recently I read an article which I agree with: all that crap that I learned as a graduate student in computer education at FIU and then taught as a teacher-trainer in Miami – the glossaries, the computer history, the attempts at teaching programming in Basic and Logo, the facts about the incredibly primitive hardware and software of the Apple II computers we used – most of that was not relevant to what people need to know about living with computers. The more I learned about computer education in the 1980s, the more I got away from that typical education department mindset, just as I did in my teaching of writing – but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still the current mode in computer classrooms all across America. Last night I just couldn’t find a comfortable position to lie in, and when I did finally get to sleep at 11 PM or so, everything was fine until I woke up at 3 AM and decided to start preparing for final exams by worrying about my lack of preparation. I’m so far behind, I feel I’ll never put it all together in time to do well on finals. Anyway, I finally drifted off again, and I had a dream in which my parents tricked me into visiting a hospital room where this mean woman doctor was about to perform an operation on me.
This reminded me of stuff Mom and Dad actually did when I was little, all in the name of keeping me from “worrying” or “getting scared” about some medical procedure – my tonsillectomy or oral surgery – ahead of time. Of course, my parents were very young, only in their twenties, so it’s not surprising that they were so inept. Either I’m not interested in cruel or unusual punishment or I was just very tired this morning, but I kept yawning in Con Law. I read for Contracts, but Davis didn’t get far, only a couple of pages in the text. Back at home, I ate a sweet potato and some defatted peanuts and got into bed for an hour. I didn’t sleep, but the rest helped, and I went back to school for the C-10 Property tutorial, which was nearly worthless. Copying some study materials with Lorraine and Martin, the two most active Democrats at school I know, I discovered that both were distressed by the presidential campaign, and like me, feel antipathy toward Clinton. He’s already been declared the winner in Kansas tonight, and when the polls close in New York and Wisconsin in an hour, we’ll discover he won there, too. Well, maybe if Clinton had any real opposition, he wouldn’t have. It’s no wonder turnout of voters is so light; there’s nobody worth going to the polls for.
Torts was okay, and Dowd passed over me altogether as we continued our unit on misrepresentation. Back home, I exercised, had dinner, listened to the news, and tried to read most of today’s newspaper. Tomorrow evening is my orals; I envy those people who did their arguments last night. Well, all I have to do is get the damn thing over with. * 9:30 PM. I’m tired but still wide awake. Clinton did win all the primaries, but Tsongas did okay for a non-candidate, and Brown ran strongly in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I finished the Times, but I don’t feel like opening a book having anything to do with law. There’s nothing on any of the three TV stations I get that’s worth putting on the set for, and I don’t feel like listening to the radio. Two weeks from tomorrow is the final day of classes. I was wondering if maybe I should take a day off. Well, maybe I’ll have to. My throat is very sore, although I don’t feel sick. I can’t find my little brown address and phone book. At the law library today I brought a Federal Reporter 2d to the desk because pages of the volume had begun to fall out. I may not be nurturing, but I hate to see hurt books the way Jonathan and Mom hate to see hurt animals.
Thursday, April 8, 1993
4:30 PM. Yesterday’s ebullient mood lasted longer than I expected after I discovered, on Westlaw, that one of my letters to newspaper people had resulted in a mention of me and Mondo Barbie in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times. Steve Harvey’s “Only in L.A.” column in the Metro section led with six paragraphs on the book, two of which were entirely on my “Twelve Step Barbie” story. He briefly mentioned other titles and the pink pages (so he must have seen a copy of the book), but there was nothing about Rick, Lucinda or St. Martin’s. I printed out several copies of the article and sent Rick a copy with a sheepish note apologizing in case he thought I was stealing his thunder. On the other hand, I was the one responsible for the column mention, and it can’t do any harm to sales or general buzz to be featured in the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps someone I know saw it (though Libby and Grant subscribe to the Daily News of Los Angeles and Wes doesn’t read newspapers). I’ll look for a copy of the article itself at the public library. Of course, it’s just a silly little column like the New York Times’ “Metropolitan Life,” not anything seriously literary, and chances are it
won’t do anything other than satisfy my ego – that’s basically all the similar publicity for With Hitler in New York (the mentions in Liz Smith’s and Arthur Bell’s columns) did for my book sales or for my career. Still, it makes me feel good to know that I still have the knack for publicity and that reporters think my ideas are interesting. I called Mom and gave her the case number for her and Dad’s bankruptcy, which I discovered by using the voice mail info system of the Southern District of Florida. That’s how I got my own case number long before I heard from my attorney. Now Dad can deposit his big Social Security checks because their filing date was Monday. I left messages with Alice and Teresa and went to sleep at about 11 PM. Up at 6 AM today, I slept pretty well although I really need to sleep more hours. At school early, I consoled Larry on his loss for re-election as a JMBA rep; he seemed pretty bummed out. Of course, the situation with Shara isn’t helping matters for him, or for her, either. Criminal Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Race Relations – all my classes – seemed interesting today, and I felt much better about being a law student, probably because getting the summer teaching job and the L.A. Times notice showed me I’m not just a law student.
During the long break, I exercised and read for class; Tomorrow, at 3 PM, we’re going over to the Thomas Center to see bell hooks (no capitals in her pseudonym), the black feminist literary critic and scholar. Two weeks from now, classes for the spring semester – and my second year of law school – will be over.
Saturday, April 9, 1994
3 PM. I had a bad case of insomnia last night. It was after 5 AM before I drifted off to less than three hours of unsatisfactory sleep. I’ve had a dull, behind-the-eyes headache all day, although I enjoyed teaching and forgot about it while I was in the classroom. Last evening I loaded up on vitamins and supplements, and I don’t seem to have a cold yet. My throat was less sore today. At least having insomnia got me to do all my grading. I kept getting up and potchkeying around. I listened to a radio talk show about the suicide of Kurt Cobain, the talented songwriter and guitarist for Nirvana, the first big grunge band out of Seattle. “He had to go join that stupid club,” his mother said. “I told him not to join that stupid club.”
Cobain had drug and alcohol problems, and he shot himself at 27. I admired his work, and for a straight male, he was extremely pro-gay. Too bad that, like poor River Phoenix, who I last saw here in town in September or October 1992, he had to die young. This morning I got several calls from students, and I tried to help them all. Ivana asked me if I could figure out the word taketh; she couldn’t find it anywhere. I hadn’t realized how confusing archaic English would be for ESL students. Coming back from my break, I overheard one student telling another that she really enjoyed my class and the other agreeing. That felt great. I love teaching poetry because it’s easy to prepare and it brings up so many interesting things to discuss, whether it’s Elizabethean beliefs about biology, the evolution from Old English to Middle English, or World War II refugees. I have such a great storehouse of information that I like to share. There was a front-page Times story today on an MIT student arrested for allowing the pirating of software over his bulletin board. Yesterday in our Computer Law Seminar, Taylor said it’s hard to keep up with developments in all the fields she’s interested in, and one student said now some law firms pay people
just to read newspapers and magazines and keep them current on hot topics and issues. Obviously, that’s a job I’d love. “Teaching is a trip,” Klug said yesterday, after I told him that I taught. “It’s better than practicing law, which is so tedious.” Somewhere there’s got to be a way I can make a living doing what I want to do and contribute to society. I got rejections from three colleges. Bakersfield College said I wasn’t one of seven candidates selected for interviews out of only 63 applicants. Those 9-1 odds are better than I thought, and that tells me something’s wrong with the way I present myself. Or else, and perhaps more likely, the college know what I should: that others are better suited to their needs. It’s not as if my goal is to teach freshman comp, while for some people, that may be all they ever wanted to do. Well, right now I’ve got to concentrate on my papers, not on job prospects. I forced myself to continue my off-the-top-of-my-head rough draft of the seminar paper on online defamation. It’s truly horrible, but I’m going to attempt to finish the draft by tomorrow morning and then begin the real writing. Last night I put away my South African law materials and other stuff I won’t need. I looked at Hunt’s Intellectual Property final from last
year; I’ve forgotten a great deal, but the test didn’t seem a total mystery. I’ve got only three papers to grade for next Saturday, my last day of teaching. Barbara Sloan sent me my revised teaching schedule for next term, which I signed and returned. I told my students who want to take me for English 2301 that it might not be me in front of the scheduled course, however. Three weeks from tonight is the Brooklyn College reunion. Five weeks from today is the University of Florida law school graduation. I wish I weren’t so tired. How will everything get done?
Friday, April 10, 1992
3 PM. I just got back from Civ Pro, the only class I had today. I didn’t understand anything Mashburn said about res judicata, but I also remember her saying that sometimes if you don’t understand something, just let it go. I read the cases today and a little of the hornbook, although I didn’t do any other work. Last night I watched The Simpsons and went to bed fairly early, getting up at 6:30 AM, which is later than usual these days.
I had a leisurely breakfast, read the Wall Street Journal and Alligator, and relaxed and exercised. The Tories ultimately did win a majority in Parliament, which dismays me because it’s a good indicator of what will happen in the U.S. in November: Despite a severe recession, a conservative party will win a fourth term, even without a popular leader like Reagan or Thatcher, by scaring the voter focusing on a negative campaign harping on the fact that the opposition leader is untrustworthy. I foresaw Bush’s election in 1988 even when Dukakis was way ahead in the polls, and I foresee Bush winning now. In the end, Ross Perot won’t make more of an impact than Britain’s third force, the Liberal Democrats. Oh well. At least Glenda Jackson got into Parliament. Tomorrow there’s a daylong symposium at UF on political correctness and the arts. I’d love to attend, but I need to work on Contracts. Maybe next term or this summer, I’ll have more free time. With law school, I almost feel that the more I learn, the less I feel certain I know, and I don’t feel as assured as I did last semester even if I have the advantage of going through the process once before. I’m sure I won’t do as well, either in an absolute sense on in relation to my classmates, many of
whom seem to have caught on to what they didn’t “get” last fall. I’ve got to remember it’s okay for me to get C’s, that I’ve succeeded just in getting through the first year of law school and obtaining skills and knowledge I didn’t have eight months ago. If I don’t value others based on their grades, why should I value myself on that basis? People like Dwight and Gene have told me their grades are mediocre, but that doesn’t affect my opinion of them, does it? While I’m gratified that high grades have caused people like Kathy to talk in class (she was quiet all last semester, but it’s a rare class now when she doesn’t ask a question), it’s sad to see someone like Lawrence have some of the feistiness sucked out of him by not-so-terrific grades; I miss the conservative obnoxiousness he sometimes displayed last term. As Davis keeps saying, they’re just rankings. I don’t even know if I want to be a law professor, and that’s the only reason I could want good grades other than my own self-esteem. Hey, today’s Shelli’s birthday; I still remember that. Twenty-one years ago I was going out with her. Her 18th birthday was on a Saturday and we drove to Rockaway to visit Ivan, then went to Long Beach before Shelli told me she was in terrible pain from menstrual cramps. She must be 39 this year, the age Ronna will be on Monday.
I was just staring off into the space of the greenery outside my window as my vision unfocused at the thought of all those years gone by. The birds are singing loudly, and I’ve got spring fever in a way I never experienced it in South Florida because all winter there was like summer. Yesterday I was thinking that once I don’t need to keep a low profile because I’m collecting unemployment and once I’m not spending so much of my life being a law student, I can see if I can get readings at the local bookstores, and I can try to get in touch with the Gainesville literary community. Well, just one more full week of classes. Two weeks from today I’ll be getting ready for my first exam. Last term I felt I’d studied some subjects as much as I could, but that was only because I didn’t know any better. However, there’s always going to be a point of diminishing returns.
Sunday, April 11, 1993
4 PM. I’ve done no reading for law school this weekend, and today I spent only about 45 minutes working on the Legal Drafting final. It’s foolhardy of me to ignore schoolwork when finals are just around the corner, but I find I’m excited – perhaps needlessly excited – by the
little indicators that people are noticing my writing. Rather than use up lots of quarters in the Times vending machine, I went to Goerings’ at 10 AM to buy the paper – and there I discovered the new Village Voice with its April Voice Literary Supplement. Hopeful, I turned the pages to see boxed-off review of Mondo Barbie on the first page of the VLS’s “Brief Encounters” notices. The review, except for a line about glibness, is favorable and it did mention me near the end: “Ideas about Barbie’s future life generate some of the funniest and funkiest stories. . . Richard Grayson’s ‘Twelve Step Barbie’ assigns the washed-up doll starlet a tawdry future that’s probably the most likely of all. She drives around L.A., volunteer-lectures at high school health-ed classes, and – strangest of all doll acts – lives an ordinary life.” The reviewer, Julie Phillips, gets exactly what I was trying to say. With this coverage, the book should get noticed in New York City, and maybe it’ll be reviewed in more places. Rick really deserves the success, especially when last year he was so broke and desolate. I hope he gets money, book contracts, and a job in academia out of this. The book has already given me a lift I couldn’t have gotten elsewhere, without Rick.
The Voice had previously never mentioned my name, except when Arthur Bell put me in his column in 1979. Of course the Los Angeles Times did mention me before this book, giving me a daily review that same year for Hitler. I have fantasies that editors, agents and even film people will see my story and look at the contributor’s note and try to contact me. But I’ve had lots of ink over the years, even for my writing, and if a review in the New York Times Book Review didn’t do anything in 1983, this certainly won’t. With the notices for Mondo Barbie have done is renew my confidence as a writer. I feel like pushing myself again. Today I sent out copies of Hitler to a couple of editors and professors I thought might like to see it. Of course I sent out tons of copies years ago and only Clarence Major responded with a reply. Yesterday I had long conversations with both Teresa and Alice. Teresa, housesitting in Oyster Bay, told me that this week she was considering going back to San Francisco because Paul had seemed nicer to her – but then he got snotty again. I told her she was crazy for even considering it after the way Paul treated her. Teresa has so little self-esteem and self-respect that she’d go back to a guy who abuses her in every possible way except physically?
No doubt she drives him crazy too, but when she described the way he talked to her – well, let’s say that my relationship with Jay, however transitory, was a dozen times healthier. At least Jay and I treated each other with respect. The foreclosure on the East Side apartment means Teresa can’t get a mortgage; she said she’d have a better chance if she’d emulated me and declared bankruptcy. So her parents will get the mortgage on their own – they could use the tax deduction because they own their other houses free and clear – and then deed the property to Teresa. She said there was more damage on Fire Island from the recent storms, and it’s had to interest possible renters for the summer. (Teresa must have had that house for a decade now, and I don’t think any renter has ever taken another share for a second summer.) Alice told me she’s cut out red meat and is trying to eat fewer than 25 fat grams a day. Her diet and race-walking have helped her lose five pounds. Meadowbrook Press keeps sending Alice totally inaccurate royalty statements which she has to challenge; they owe her more than $5000. She’s done no work on the Rodale Press book, but she hasn’t gotten her $18,000 advance yet, and the deadline isn’t till February. Alice has made a deal to move into that apartment between West 14th and 15th, but the
owner needs to find a place to buy before they can finalize – and I’m not holding my breath expecting Alice will move anytime soon. She’s going on a tour of the Greek isles later this month, and she and Peter have some other travel-writer scam which will take them to St. Augustine in mid-June; Alice said I should drive over and spend a few hours with them. Of course I might see her before that, if I’m in New York in early May. This week I should check to see if I’ll be needed in Tallahassee by the Department of Cultural Affairs then; otherwise I can check with Ronna about staying with her and then buy the tickets. Sometimes it seems I’ll never get back to New York City, so I can’t really believe I could possibly be there in a few weeks.
Tuesday, April 12, 1994
7:30 PM. I worked on my seminar paper a little last evening and this morning, and I still have about seven or eight articles to go over and see what I can add. The paper is close to forty pages now, but a lot of the information is repetitive or unnecessary or verbose. Still, it’s taking shape. I’ll work on it more tonight and in the morning.
I quickly scanned this week’s reading for Women and the Law before I left for school today, and when I was home for lunch, I did the reading for Intellectual Property just about to the end of the text. I need to work more on my pathfinder. Before our Westlaw lab, Rosalie told me how her husband, Steve Sanderson, laughed while reading aloud parts of the article from yesterday’s Gainesville Sun to her before she discovered it was me being discussed. All day people, including some I don’t know, told me they’d seen the article. It’s interesting to discover who does and who doesn’t read the local paper. As I’d asked, Laura Kauffmann sent me the clip from the Ocala Star-Banner in the self-addressed stamped envelope I’d sent her. They put the story on page one with a full-color photo of me (not just a head shot) and the jump headline was “Grayson Says Candidacy Is a Wake-Up Call to Democrats,” as if “Grayson” was a recognizable name. On Westlaw, I discovered that Ron Ishoy had put in two sentences about my candidacy at the end of his column in last Sunday’s Broward section of the Miami Herald. My family must have missed it. Our Westlaw lab was on scientific evidence using Dialog databases, and Kelly let me handle the keyboard during the demonstration. (When we were in the Encyclopedia of Associations
database, I showed her the listing for The Committee for Immediate Nuclear War.) Rosalie is a good computer teacher. As I know, it’s not easy to use computers in the classroom. In Dowd’s class, we discussed more about women and wage work, centering on sexual stereotypes. When the subject of the legal profession came up, I cited my paper and said which fields female attorneys are clustered in. Soon after I got home, the cat wanted to get out – he seems to like the new semi-moist food I bought – and I had lunch and then read. In the mail I got a rejection from a community college in Oregon and some new “creative nonfiction” series of books says they don’t want my diary book manuscripts. Alice sent a postcard from Key West saying that although she couldn’t imagine living there – of course Alice has a hard time imagining living outside the 10011 ZIP code – she’s enjoying relaxing after six-day weeks. God, the air was so fragrant as I walked back to school along SW 2nd Avenue; I wish I knew the names of all the flowers now in bloom. On campus, I chatted with Lorraine, who was doing job searches on the computer. “I won’t relax till I have a job,” said Lorraine, approaching finding employment with the same desperate attitude that made her feel so miserable all through law school. But who am I
to tell her it would be less counterproductive if she just went with the flow? Hunt’s class, on the ability to copyright functional items that have artistic design qualities, intrigued me, and I was the only one to raise my hand when he asked if anyone thought a design for a hip implant device which went inside people’s bodies could be copyrighted. People guffawed when I said, “It’s important to be an aesthetic design so when doctors look at it in catalogs, they say, ‘Hey, this looks nice and will go well inside my patients’ bodies.’” I heard someone say, “What a comedian.” Hunt told the class that that was exactly the judge’s reasoning. * 10:30 PM. I went over three more law review articles and added a few pages to my paper, but by now nearly everything I read is duplicative of what I’ve already got on paper. Josh called a little while ago. His father is still “goofy,” as if he’s been brain-damaged although he recognizes people and is off Thorazine. The urologists don’t want to take him off the catheter, however. After he’s released, Josh is going to try to take him home, and only if that doesn’t work out will he put his dad in a nursing home. When it comes to his parents, Josh is a saint.
I called Mom earlier and read the Sun/StarBanner article to her. (I wonder if it appeared in the other New York Times Regional Newspapers in Florida.) In two weeks I’ll be heading for New York City, where it was close to 70° yesterday.
Monday, April 13, 1992
5 PM. Last night I slept well, so I shouldn’t be sleepy now, but I am, a little. I’ve just exercised, but Dowd’s class this afternoon was boring. Maybe it’s because it’s 3 PM or it’s the end of the term, but both she and the students seem to have little energy these days. I did some reading in the library this morning. Baldwin whizzed through the first of First Amendment cases, dealing with the World War I Espionage Acts up to the Smith Act communist witch hunts of the 1950s. I had time to read most of the Times before Contracts, which also went fast. After stopping at Publix, I came home to have lunch, finish the newspaper, and listen to a radio broadcast of a lecture on affirmative action given by Prof. Sharon Rush, a young and popular teacher at the law school.
Back on campus, I went through a computer exercise on jurisdiction and venue, which I copied for home use, and then my eyes hurt, so I sat outside with Carla, Dori, Shay, Dwayne, Steve H and Mark R. They’re all nice kids – though Steve is, as he said, “loquacious” – but they are kids compared to me. I hear them talk about stuff like wearing Garanimals clothes as children and know I was an adult when those clothes were marketed. Still, I feel I fit in with them, as nobody makes a big deal about my age: I dress like they do, talk like they do, don’t look so much older. Maybe it’s just that I’m immature. Ronna’s 39th birthday is today – I sent her a card last week – and I’m sure she’s thinking about getting older. Maybe it’s because I do feel and act young, but I view my age as a great advantage. I hear about everybody getting prepared for finals, and that’s probably why – apart from my not wholly neurotic need to achieve – I get caught up in their excitement and their concern over good grades. I’d feel more relaxed if I were with people like myself, for whom good grades might be a bonus but in whose lives they will make very little difference. The only possible benefit to me would be a chance to be a law professor, and I’m far from certain I want that kind of life. For me, this year has been a chance to learn, but more than that, it’s given me the confidence
of knowing I can move to a city where I don’t know anyone, live by myself, at least 300 miles away from the nearest friends or family members, begin a way of life that’s different from anything I’ve done before, and manage to do very well, thank you. That means more to me than a 3.42 index.
Wednesday, April 14, 1993
4 PM. Just got in. D.T. stopped lecturing at 3:35 PM so we could fill out teacher evaluations. I bet a lot of people will write that he’s offensive. He is offensive, but I regard him as a crazy old uncle whom you just ignore whenever he says ridiculous tings. I walked out to the parking lot with Sharon – I learned she’s taught statistics and economics on the college level, so no wonder she’s such a great law student – and then I went in one direction, thinking my car was there. But I wasn’t sure, and then I realized that it was over the other way. Derrick noticed my movements and asked me I’d lost my car. “Just getting senile,” I said. Earlier in the day, I ran into Jorge at Publix and I said, “Doing some shopping huh?” Then I realized I’d said something totally stupid: What
else would he be doing in a supermarket? Studying? I slept well last night. In the library at 8 AM, I xeroxed some of the Mondo Barbie reviews and found a new one on Westlaw: actually, it was just a shorter version of the review that mentioned me in the Arizona Republic, and it appeared in yesterday’s Charlotte Observer (maybe Susan Ludvigson or Robin Hemley spotted my name). It turns out the review, by Valerie Takahama, originally appeared in the Orange County Register. Nunn started off class with a role play exercise in which he was the judge and three students played prosecutor, defendant and defense attorney. That led to a nuts and bolts discussion of the practical things you need to know in plea bargaining. After class, I voted for Nunn for Teacher of the Year. I also switched my vote in the runoff for JMBA President from Nick to Odi, the Nigerian student. I like Nick, but I saw some really conservative types wearing Nick stickers (although Lawrence was for Odi) and figured JMBA probably could use a shaking up. At home, I did light aerobics and laundry (sort of simultaneously), then showered, dressed, read the Times and had lunch before I went back to school for Vieira’s last class. I haven’t really studied for Vieira’s final tomorrow, and I probably won’t study much
tonight, either. It’s one-third of a two-credit course, and with two-thirds of my grades in, I’ll just bullshit and get it over with. Nor did I look at Legal Drafting today, and I probably won’t get to that until Friday. But I have the entire weekend to devote to that, as well as time on Monday, when I have only one class. Speaking to Shay this morning, I showed her the reviews the book got while we were at neighboring computers. Her husband (since December) Jonathan also adjuncts at Santa Fe, in psychology. He must know Billy because he’s also in the UF Ph.D. program. Three weeks from today will be my first day of freedom, and I could even be in New York City then. It seems impossible that I’ll have the time to get in all my studying before I have to take finals. But this term, I feel less pressure, and I expect to have a bad semester in terms of grades. However, I can afford to blow this term. And if I don’t always go to class regularly, other students don’t read regularly, and some are such bad writers that they’re at a disadvantage to start off. If I make a B or better in, for example, Transboundary Environmental Issues, it’s only going to be because I can write well and that impresses foreign professors.
I’m not going to panic. Last spring, I found the Contracts and Civ Pro finals very stressful and scary, and I got C+’s on them. (On the other hand, Property was even worse, and I got a B+ there.) Who cares? Yeah, on some level, I obviously do.
Friday, April 15, 1994
8 PM. Last evening my Lexis clipping service told me that one of the names in my list had appeared in the NEWS file, and I read a cute story Alice sent in to “Metropolitan Diary” in the New York Times about how she came across a woman in a bookstore that would help her lose ten pounds. Even when Alice brought over her own book called The Last Ten Pounds, the woman looked skeptical and decided not to buy it despite Alice’s offer to autograph the copy for her. Funny. I slept well last night and had some odd dreams toward morning. In one, I visited Shelli and Jerry, who were still married and living across from our old house on East 56th Street in Brooklyn. In another, my computer monitor wasn’t working, and instead of my word processing text, it was displaying a video picture of a TV
news report on a parade near the Museum of Modern Art. Although I’d been in Florida in the dream, I somehow got to the scene of the report to see Grandma Ethel, who was there with other old people from the nursing home. It’s going to be very strange being in New York City and not going to Rockaway or Woodmere to visit Grandma Ethel. I don’t know how I feel about trying to go to the cemetery; I’m not sure they’ve had her unveiling yet. I didn’t go to see Grandpa Herb’s grave until eight years after he died, and I never think about going to the cemetery where Grandpa Nat and Grandma Sylvia are buried. I spent most of today revising my seminar paper and dealing with cites to come and all the footnote problems. I made the first heavy-duty overhaul of the paper’s first 18 pages, so I’m about halfway through. I think I’ll put the seminar paper aside until Monday. Once I get home from school tomorrow, I need to concentrate on the pathfinder, which is due on Thursday, before the seminar paper. Even though it was a warm, sunny day, I went out only at 8 AM to Publix and the newspaper racks and again at 5 PM, to deposit my latest $136.80 paycheck from Santa Fe Community
College and to get four rolls of quarters at the bank. And of course I did go out to get the mail in midafternoon (and squint, because I didn’t have on my contacts, at the only person at the pool, a cute guy who was sunbathing). Susan Schaeffer sent me a long letter, very friendly. She hadn’t been aware I was in law school, much less about to graduate from UF. At the Brooklyn College English Department, they’re still in a state of war, but she, Baumbach (Susan said his latest book is called Seven Wives) and Spielberg are all still there. Maybe I never had the academic positions they did, but they all fell victim to inertia – and they all (especially Susan) probably could have gotten other jobs elsewhere. Susan told me how her latest manuscript got completely rewritten; Knopf is her publisher now, and they had trouble with her version of the novel. Susan said she still writes poems but files them away in a box. Dorothy Friedman, Susan reported, tried to contact me in Fort Lauderdale, but of course I’d moved away long ago. Not aware of how much of the 1980s I’d spent in New York City, Susan said that it seems I’d been in Florida a very long time. She closed the letter by saying she had fond memories of “The Peacock Room,” the first
story I gave her, the one that eventually became “The Princess from the Land of Porcelain,” going from over fifty pages to fewer than ten. I suspect Susan believes I would have been a talented novelist of realistic, sensitive fiction like her own if only Baumbach and the Fiction Collective hadn’t influenced me for the worse. She says she’s after Bob Plunkett after his bad review of her Greta Garbo book; she realized he also reviewed Mondo Barbie. I’ve got nine papers to grade for tomorrow’s class, but I plan to put them off until the morning – unless I have insomnia the way I did last Friday night. At least I know that I’m going to have a decent seminar paper to hand in to Taylor; I wish I felt as confident about my pathfinder, but that’s going to count for only 40% of grade in Advanced Legal Research. Once I start it, I’ll probably feel better. C.A. Bradshaw sent me more email; he’s directing Krapp’s Last Tape now and is working on his one-man Thomas Bernhard show. Which reminds me: I haven’t heard from Tom Whalen in Stuttgart all year. I must write him when I return to Gainesville in mid-May. This was a good week. I got all that publicity in the papers, and I learned that, as of last semester, I ranked #10 in my graduating class.
Thursday, April 16, 1992
8 PM. Yesterday Baldwin blew most of us away when he said that the in first question he gave us in the practice final there was really no constitutional issue at all, and then he went into a discussion of obscure case we could have cited. Now I know I remember facts better than most, but I couldn’t have remembered these cases, so I doubt very many others could have. On the other hand, Baldwin says he counts good writing skills, especially on the “creative” question, and he said he would also take into account class participation and attendance, which might raise us one letter grade. On the latter criteria, I am doing fine. I haven’t been absent from a single class in any course this semester, and Baldwin can see I’m a fact fiend like he is. Talking to groups of people after class, I discovered many students are worried the most about Baldwin’s exam, particularly because it’s closed book. It was fun to hang out and chat with friends before I came home for dinner at 5:30 PM. Last evening I studied Con Law for two hours, then fell asleep during a William Greider Frontline election special that seemed to be a little mushy even though I agreed with its
conclusions about money having completely corrupted politics in Washington. I had many pleasant dreams, including one in which I was teaching college English again. At school today at 7:45 AM, I read Moynihan on landlord/tenant and then went to Julin’s lecture on the subject. A lot of material in my courses is only just starting to cohere, and much of it remains amorphous. After class, I went shopping, then came home to read Civ Pro, exercise to Homestretch, listen to a radio show on gay families, and eat lunch before heading back to school for Mashburn’s class on collateral estoppel. I haven’t looked at the Times yet, but I’m going to try to study some more now. I don’t mind studying, actually; it’s easier to do it when there isn’t the pressure of reading for class. Although we have fewer days this term between the end of classes and the start of exams, I expect I’ll have enough time to do at least a halfway decent job of studying. Foremost in my mind is being able to understand and use the material I’ve learned. Today Julin said it’s important only to figure out what questions to ask, that you can always get the answers elsewhere. I’m more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, and I prefer it to being sure of myself.
Listening to students around campus, I can tell that the job market for attorneys is worse than ever. Even a good student like Darin, who ordinarily would have gotten a summer clerkship, said he’s happy to have found a volunteer job just to get experience.
Friday, April 17, 1992
4 PM. I’ve been so busy with law school that I realized only a few hours ago that today is Good Friday. Passover begins tonight, too. The Jewish Law Students Association is having a $5 pot luck seder, but I don’t plan to go, as I don’t miss the ritual since my family hasn’t observed it in years. Well, I’m coming down from the last five-day week of law school. Today we had our last classes in both Property I and Civil Procedure II, though both teachers have scheduled review sessions during the exam period. Mashburn ended by saying, “You’ve been a nice class, and I’ll remember you fondly and probably see some of you again,” and then she looked embarrassed as we applauded. We didn’t applaud Julin. He was okay in his 9:10 AM lecture on landlord/tenant, but at our makeup session at 11:30 AM, he droned on and on, so much so that he seemed oblivious to our blinking incomprehension.
He’s a nice man, but lectures are not as effective as student interaction, even if that means the terror of being called upon. This summer we’ll have lots of Julin and Collier, both of whom can be boring – but I also appreciate their easygoing styles, so it’s a tradeoff. Yesterday I studied by using Emanuel’s First Year Questions for Civ Pro, and I found I enjoyed the hard work. I should have studied more today. I read from 8 AM until Property began, but between Julin’s two classes, I sat outside with E.K. and Barry, and eventually we were joined by Dwight, Min, Mark R, Kenny H, Angelina and Erica. (The latter two left their tape recorders with Dwight and went out for Sichuan food during the second Property lecture.) People seem concerned about the lack of jobs. Barry, too, says he may volunteer at the county courthouse this summer. It’s such a bad employment outlook that it’s made people even more competitive, as they worry that only the top students will get, not just the best jobs, but any job. (I now feel I can rationalize getting bad grades: Why should I take the food out of the mouth of one of my colleagues who really needs it?) This morning my car wouldn’t turn over, and then it did, weakly. I poured water and scrubbed the schmutz off the battery terminals and finally got it started. It’s been okay the rest of the day.
After coming home for a quick lunch at 12:30 PM, I deposited my unemployment check in the bank. I got a curious letter from Optima, urging me to call them if I wanted input into any decision they were about to make. I assume they’ve discovered my scarlet past and are canceling my credit card account. That’s okay, as long as they let me make minimum payments. I’ve already used about $950 of the $1000 credit line. And I want to write that op-ed piece about my credit card chassis and my bankruptcy now that one year after my discharge has gone by. (I seem to have read I can’t get into trouble anymore.) Speaking of time gone by, a year ago today I was nervously awaiting the next day’s plane trip to California. What a great experience that trip was! If I had the money, I’d take another trip to Los Angeles this year. * 9 PM. I couldn’t bring myself to study; instead, I caught up with the Times, Wall Street Journal, All Things Considered, McNeil/Lehrer, Washington Week and Wall Street Week as I ate plenty of low-fat, mostly nutritious food. I feel uneasy now. My caps in my front teeth are wobbling worse than ever, as they’re prone to do this time of night. It’s been two years since I’ve had a decent dental appointment. I’d like to go, but I can’t afford it.
Money has been a real problem, and while we’ve been doing Landlord and Tenant in Property, it’s made me think that I need to move to a cheaper apartment this summer. I’m paying $450 a month here, where I’m happy, but if I had rented a place instead of letting my parents do it for me last May, I would have picked someplace cheaper. I like the Student Ghetto, but I probably could find something cheaper where most of the law students live, in the suburban rentals south and west of here. I’ll have plenty of time to look. I’ve gotten spoiled by having a washer/dryer and a second microwave, but I can live without them, and I don’t need all this space. A studio or a smaller one-bedroom would be fine. If I could pay $375, I could save $75 a month over what I’m paying now. Over a year, that would add up to $900, enough money to make a difference. I hadn’t wanted to check on my loan application because I don’t want to get upset before finals. Anyway, whatever happens with my grades or my money problems, nobody can take away from me the wonderful experiences I’ve had as a first-year law student.
Sunday, April 18, 1993
5 PM. I’m all congested and I feel exhausted, but then I was so uncomfortable last night I managed to sleep only between 5 AM and 7 AM. Nevertheless, I tried to work hard on my Legal Drafting final for several hours today. I could go on for another twenty hours and still probably not get it right, but I’ve got to stop being such a perfectionist; I’ll make do with another three or four hours, and unless I get an irresistible urge to return to the computer, I’m not going to look at the thing again today. Why do I give myself all this pressure about grades? After all, it doesn’t look I’m applying for jobs where people even care how I did this semester. But it’s all tied up with my lack of self-esteem, which is also why I’ve been going crazy looking for my name in Mondo Barbie reviews. When I got the Sunday Times this morning, I opened to the Book Review’s contents page and found Mondo Barbie on page 7. Scanning the review by Robert Plunkett (a funny, gay Florida writer I admire), I immediately felt crestfallen when I didn’t see my name. He did mention the title of my story, along with others, about Barbie as a character, which he found “fun,” but sort of like skits about Dan Quayle. Plunkett preferred the realistic fiction
that mentioned the doll, particularly Julia Alvarez’s and Alice McDermott’s. At first it seemed like a bad review, but actually it’s mildly favorable and probably very good news for Rick, considering its prominent placement up front in the book review. (The photo of the doll helps.) Originally I’d figured they’d be lucky to get a box on the pages of brief reviews. This means that more people will notice the book and maybe read my story, so it’s certainly good news. But I felt I needed to be validated by seeing my name in the Times again. That’s pathetic. If I can’t, at this stage of my life, like myself for who I am rather than other people’s assessments – whether it’s a book review or a grade in a stupid law school class – then I haven’t come very far from that self-hating adolescent who got anxiety attacks in his bedroom in the mid-1960s, have I? Why can’t I be happy, when I know I’ve done a halfway decent job and enjoyed myself? This semester I’ve learned a great deal, so what does it matter whether some law professor gives a grade of A or C to exam number 1299? Or whether my fiction is noticed or not? Didn’t I get pleasure out of writing “Twelve Step Barbie”? Not only was writing it an accomplishment, but getting it published should
be enough for me. Or is it everyone who always wants more? Ronna called today and said she’d check with Leah, but a week’s stay, starting on Thursday, May 6, is a good time for her; she’s going away on the weekends before and after that. Right now she’s swamped with work at Hadassah as inquiries for materials come in from all the different locals because May is when their chapters elect officers. She felt better before she left Florida, although she said she was sleep-deprived because she stayed up late every night talking with her mother. I told Ronna if she can stand me for a week she is a better friend than even I thought. Ronna’s 40th birthday was low-key, and she thanked me for my card. My throat is still raw, but less so, as the congestion has moved out into my nasal passages and chest. I forced myself to exercise (very lightly), but maybe I should have taken the day off. I still have to read today’s Times – apart from that one book review, that is.
Tuesday, April 19, 1994
9:30 PM. Shay just dropped me off after the party at Prof. Dowd’s house. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I had a good time. I’m actually
pretty sociable, given half a chance, and it was nice to see people outside of school. Some people brought their husbands or boyfriends and there was tons of food. (I ended up having to take home about a third of the cookies I’d brought.) It amazes me how many people tell me they see me walking all the time with my fire-red backpack. I wonder if I’m a comical figure or a character – and the truth is, it doesn’t bother me at all. (Perhaps that’s because I am a comical figure and a character and I’ve worked hard to get that way.) Last evening Justin called and we had a nice conversation. David’s taken another job, at a new Barnes & Noble on Sixth Avenue in the 20s in the city, in addition to his Acousti-Guide work at the museum, so Justin doesn’t see much of him, given his own hectic schedule. When Brooklyn College wavered on keeping his position, Justin held firm to his insistence that he get two adjunct courses in the fall (because now that mean you get benefits at CUNY), and eventually the department caved in to Justin’s demands for his “package.” But he had to do a lot of politicking, as the usual academic knives were out. Justin is directing a musical soon, and he’s got other work in the theater. He’s now on CompuServe; I knew sooner or later Justin would
join the rest of us mouse potatoes in getting connected. Last night I finished the footnotes and went to bed at midnight. Up at 5:30 AM, I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I exercised to Body Electric when it came on at 6 AM, and then, after 7 AM, I managed to fall back into a light sleep for an hour. Our last Advanced Legal Research class was a good one. Rosalie asked me to conduct the teacher evaluation and call her back when we were finished – apparently this is my new job in every class – and then she talked about the point of all the research sources and techniques we’ve learned. She gave the class good advice in telling them to be nice to librarians, because librarians can go out of their way to help you if you’re friendly. So many lawyers, especially, tend to treat people like librarians and secretaries like garbage. I know I’ve always made it a point to be friendly with secretaries and custodial staff at the schools where I’ve worked. I’ve always believed it was not only classy but it made sense to go out of your way to be friendly with people who can do you absolutely no good whatsoever – because it’s right and because you never know. I met with Rosalie in her office after class, asking her a bushel of questions and then just chatting about academia (her husband’s just
become Poli Sci chair at UF) and why library schools are closing (she said it’s because they know they can push around “bunheads” easier than people in other fields). She seemed really concerned about my future and the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do next. But she did admit I had a good attitude. I like Rosalie a lot. At home, I worked a little on my pathfinder – eventually, as with my seminar paper, I’ve just got to stop. (Rosalie told us ways to know when you should stop researching.) I didn’t feel that well today, and I thought I would skip Hunt’s class. But in the end, I forced myself to go, and it was a waste. Our guest, a Ukrainian lawyer, was even more boring than Hunt. I watched people in class try to be polite to a foreign visitor when they were obviously going out of their minds with boredom. At 6 PM, I decided to call Shay to see if she could give me a lift so I could avoid taking the bus. She knows this place from Carla (who doesn’t drive) and it was on the way. Jonathan Raskin, her husband, was at a rehearsal of a play he wrote that’s being put on tomorrow. I think it’s pretty cool for a psychologist to also be a playwright. We were one of the first to arrive, but there were already about ten people. I enjoyed
chatting with classmates, and Zack and Zoë were running around being adorable. Nancy Dowd has a nice, homey house with a warm feeling. We talked about law school teaching, and she said she’s only the second person from her law school (Loyola-Chicago) to become a law professor. She actually likes teaching the first-year classes. Greg, Mindy and Rose gave the results of their study of rape attitudes, and another group presented their board game (at first I assumed it was a work of art of Dowd’s – actually, it was nicer than her real art) about teaching selfesteem for girls and how to deal with sexual harassment. Some of us also said what we got out of the class. For me, Women and the Law was probably one of the best classes I took, and Dowd undoubtedly had a terrific experience teaching the class, learning from us the way good teachers always do. I talked with several people – mostly secondyear students – who knew my name; I feel badly that I didn’t know theirs. Well, I guess I’ll read today’s Times till I get tired: no work tonight. I don’t have to go to school tomorrow until 11 AM. Mike Winerip sent me a postcard to say he’s glad to see I’m doing more kicking than getting kicked. He’s got a book coming out this June and told me to tell him what I think of it.
Wednesday, April 20, 1994
8 PM. I feel a great sense of relief. I just printed out my pathfinder and put it together to hand in to Rosalie tomorrow. This morning I handed in my seminar paper to Prof. Taylor’s secretary. I didn’t sleep much again last night, but when I got up in the middle of the night, I decided to go to the paper and revise the last third. After a couple of hours’ sleep, I printed out the final draft this morning. I can’t even think about studying for my Intellectual Property final now. I just want to get out. I guess finishing the paper put me in a good mood today, for I felt very chipper, given the fact that in the past two nights I’ve had about a total of six hours of sleep. It was warm when I rushed out of the house at 11 AM – but before I had to run into a shower and change quickly because my exercise session lasted later than I planned. I enjoyed Dowd’s class today because we had a terrific discussion about legal education and in particular what could be done to improve or change the first-year curriculum. I tossed out the idea of an all-women law school, based on my readings about the Portia Law School in Boston and similar schools back in
the days when women couldn’t get into other schools. The comments I received were intelligent and spoke of the frustration many people experience in law school. Women obviously experience our law school differently than men do. Several people commented that they never talk in their other classes, but Women and the Law gave them a safe place to speak out and feel comfortable, knowing that they’d be listened to. I think Lew put his finger on the more general problem when he said that in most classes, students don’t listen to one another at all, regardless of gender. Through my law school career, I found that only in Prof. Peters’ Negotiation class and in Weyrauch’s Legal Counseling was the importance of being a good listener ever discussed. The discussion today made me think about the first year and how terrified we all were, wondering if the Socratic spin of the wheel would put us in the uncomfortable position of being engaged in one of those no-win, hide-theball colloquies. Nancy Dowd wondered what other ways there are to do it, and I saw her writing down many suggestions that people made. Home for lunch, I did some work on the pathfinder and then went to get a haircut. Zena
knew today was my next-to-last day of classes in law school (on Saturday I taught my SFCC students the word penultimate, saying they could impress people if they used it) because Marsha had been in the salon earlier. I’ve let my full beard grow back in, but I’m thinking of going back to a goatee again before I go to New York City. Back on campus, I worked at the library’s reference section, doing last-minute stuff for the pathfinder as Rosalie sat at the desk nearby. Hunt finished the text today with a case on gray-market goods (the first time I hadn’t read ahead) and talked about the GATT treaty will probably change all of the U.S.’s intellectual property statutes. Tomorrow is a question-andanswer session, with attendance not mandatory. Hunt finished five minutes early and we applauded him. I worked on the pathfinder both before and after dinner. I haven’t read the Times yet and I may leave it till tomorrow morning. I’m tired but feel I did a good job on my assignments.
Tuesday, April 21, 1992
1:30 PM. I’ll be heading back to school for our last Torts class soon. Yesterday Dowd talked about wrongful discharge, which she’ll finish up
today. At one point she asked if anyone knew how many workers in the U.S. were not covered by collective bargaining agreements. I said 85% and she said, “That’s a pretty good guess: it’s about 83%” as people laughed. I guess I have the reputation for being Mr. Trivia Man. As we walked to the parking lot, Peter complained that our class was becoming too competitive and not like the cooperative souls we were last term. He’s heard people making nasty remarks about others. If that’s true, I’m glad I didn’t hear them. On the other hand, tomorrow is the last time we’ll be together as a section, since some of us are going in the summer session and some not, and the other required or registration priority classes don’t put us together. I reread all my news clippings when I got home, and after dinner, I went to return books to the public library and get some stuff at Eckerd Drugs. Because I felt a sore throat, I was afraid I was coming down with a cold. I spoke to Mom, who was badly bitten by China on Sunday night when she tried to pick fleas off her. (They’ve been having a bad flea infestation.) Jonathan managed to get a butterfly bandage on it and stem the bleeding, but it throbbed all night, and although Mom said it felt better, I advised her to monitor it and see a doctor if necessary.
Exhausted, I fell asleep at 9:30 AM, but I was up an hour later, but as tired as I was, I couldn’t fall back asleep. Some neighbor was blasting music, I felt sick, and I was so frustrated I wanted to cry. Eventually I did fall asleep, but it was unsatisfying because I didn’t sleep deeply or for very long. Before Con Law today, I asked Lorraine about her insomnia, and she said it was still quite bad. Baldwin went over child pornography cases and offensive speech today, and after class, I read material related to our next topic, the Dworkin/McKinnonite pornography laws relating to harm to women. Contracts seemed hard today; because I kept struggling to stop yawning, I couldn’t understand all the intricacies of third-party beneficiaries. Back home, I exercised to Homestretch and had lunch. My head hurts.
Wednesday, April 22, 1992
4 PM. I made it through the first year of law school classes. I suppose I should now be frantically studying for finals, but frantic isn’t my style. I’m willing to accept some C grades this term – I think it was just a fluke that I didn’t get one last
term – because my identity doesn’t rest upon my grades in law school. As I keep telling myself ad nauseum, there’s no rationale for my “having” to get high grades. I won’t work for a commercial firm nor will I clerk for a federal judge. Even if I wanted to do those things, I doubt I’d be a very good candidate, regardless of GPA. Kevin Urick was third in his class but didn’t get any corporate offers, probably because of his literary and academic background and his personality. What staid law firm or federal judge wants to hire someone like me, who’s a public personality in his own right, someone who’s written and published the stuff I have, someone who’s pulled the publicity stunts I have? It was hard enough for me to “represent” Broward Community College and the other colleges where I taught. I’m not a team player but an independent contractor. The kind of legal work I’d consider doing, I could probably do with a 2.6 index. As for being a law school professor, I’m not sure I want to teach at a law school, much less write the turgid articles I see in law reviews. No, I’m still a generalist, not a specialist. So I don’t have to become a lawyer at all. Even people who don’t know me intimately – people like Cynthia Epstein or Aunt Sydelle –
already suspect that I’m in law school just for the hell of it. Yesterday afternoon we filled out evaluations for Dowd, and she talked about wrongful discharge, a subject that clearly excites her. I was surprised at how many people dislike Dowd, and I’m not sure why. She knows it, however, and the mutual affection we’d had last term ended once lots of people got their grades. She kept us after class if we wanted to discuss the exam, and there was no applause for her the way we clapped for Mashburn last week and for Baldwin and Dowd today. When I got home, Lorraine called and said Art told her Dowd thought our final was a week from Saturday when it’s actually next Tuesday. Today she finally realized we were right and sent a note with Davis, which he read in class, telling us so. I feel bad for Dowd. Of course, after she gives me a C this term, I may dislike her, and it would make me less enthusiastic about having her for Family Law this fall, although I still think that her perspective as a gay person would be helpful to me. Last night I fell asleep at 9:30 PM and managed to get some deep rest and vivid dreams, so I felt better when I got up this morning. But I don’t have to get up at 6 AM again until next August.
Anyway, Baldwin ended the term with an exciting discussion about pornography as harm to women and ABA v. Hudnut. I had plenty to say but I didn’t raise my hand because lots of people were anxious to talk now that they know Baldwin counts class participation. During the break, I looked up a case in hate crimes that Baldwin mentioned. Karin was upset because she doesn’t know the difference between obscenity and pornography. “Forget about it,” I told her. “The Supreme Court doesn’t know, either.” These young students still are intent on finding the “right” answer. Dowd warned us not to tell her everything we learned in a torts handbook on the exam. Like most teachers, she wants us to use the material and apply it. That’s why studying rules may be less productive than people think, especially on open-book exams. I almost look forward to my exams as a challenge. Davis engendered grumbles when he told us to meet at 1:50 PM for a second session to finish third-party beneficiaries. He knew most us can’t concentrate on such a difficult subject now, but he said we’d thank him when we passed the bar exam. So our last law school class wasn’t really our last one, and we came back to the Bailey Courtroom for half an hour. And that was that: people headed home to hit the books.
Emira told me Dan is sick with a strep throat. He has 104° fever, and he must be upset as well. I hope he gets better or gets his finals postponed. What bad luck. Angelina is going to Tallahassee right after finals to begin her $900-a-week, 65-hours-aweek clerk’s job. Her husband is off from teaching most of the summer but told her he won’t leave Gainesville. Two predictions about Angelina: she’ll be a successful, ambitious attorney, and her marriage won’t survive that success. I can already see the price some of my classmates are willing to pay for the sake of their careers. Jim, who’s working at the same firm as Angelina, didn’t get a good response from the partners when he told them he planned to return to Gainesville every weekend to be with his pregnant wife. Angelina said they told him, “On weekends the firm socializes together.” Am I the same person I was when I started law school last August? Definitely. I’ve learned a massive amount of material and have figured out how lawyers think, but, at 40, I was already pretty well formed. The kids who are 22 or 26 or even 30 and who see law as their lives have definitely changed, and I doubt it’s for the better. Probably people who don’t get such good grades and don’t really care – Larry, Alain, Mike W – are the healthiest people in our class,
although I think a number of the high achievers – Shay, for example – haven’t parked their humanity at the gates of the law school. In time, this first-year experience will make more sense. Anyway, I can be by myself the next two days and study as much as I want.
Friday, April 23, 1993
8 PM. My head is still stuffed up, and I’ve been blowing my nose a lot, hoping to avoid a sinus infection. At least I slept deliciously last night – under the quilt, too, because it got down to 37°. I had interesting dreams. In one, I was going back to our old house in Brooklyn, thinking Jay might be there, but instead Mom and Prof. Dowd were. In another dream, I had a baby sister and wondered why I didn’t know about her before; I’ve had similar dreams about other extra siblings. It’s been three weeks or some since I had that last conversation with Jay, and while I know it’s good that our relationship ended, I’d like to – when I come back from New York City, sometime in the summer – get in touch with Jay to let him know I have no bad feelings. What I want, I guess, is more of a sense of closure. Of course that might not be what Jay wants. I’ll have to think about it. When I spent most of today thinking about was
D.T.’s final. I studied the first half of the course, on intestacy and wills, which was the easier half. I enjoyed going over my notes and the text and Donna’s excellent outline and the Florida statutes. Although probate law is tricky, it has a logic that I find coherent – unlike the logic of hearsay, for example, which I could never conceptualize – and I like dealing with family relationships because I can visualize great-aunts and halfbrothers: they’re people, not just concepts. I can imagine hypothetical questions and I can envision myself having fun with them. Today it struck me that my lowest grades in law school have tended to be in subjects that I didn’t find fun, and I’ve done best in the classes that I most enjoyed. Anyway, I’ll finish the rest of Estates and Trusts tomorrow and skip to Crim Por on Sunday, returning to E & T on the eve of the final. Three days should be enough, considering I’ve been attending and doing the work all semester long. Today I went out only to shop at Publix and get the Times (which I haven’t yet read). I mailed Teresa a birthday card in care of her parents’ Brooklyn address because I don’t know how else to reach her. In the mail I got a list of the four essays we’ll be using on the English 1101 final for Summer A and B at Santa Fe, so it looks like I’ll be teaching there if all goes well.
Last night I spoke to Mom, who said their date in Bankruptcy Court is on May 26 at 9:30 AM (the same time I had to go). Dad had to change his flight to Los Angeles; he’s leaving the day before to go to New York. Jason got suspended from school for forging a teacher’s signature on a pass. He didn’t come home, and Clarice was frantic, although he did leave a note saying he had to go away and chill out for a while. Clarice finally tracked him down at a friend’s, and she allowed him to stay there overnight. Is suspension from school any kind of a punishment for a kid who doesn’t want to go at all? My feeling is that they should just let Jason drop out. He’s 16 and can do that legally (although Florida won’t let him get a driver’s license). Clarice should make it clear that if the doesn’t go to school, he’s got to get a job. Of course, I can’t see Jason holding out even a minimum wage job for very long. I feel bad for Marc, who has to deal with that pain-in-the-ass kid. In two weeks, if all goes well, I’ll be in Manhattan. I think that except for seeing people, what I want to do most is walk on Broadway on the Upper West Side. How I used to love strolling and watching all the people who looked like they came out of Central casting.
I feel nostalgic even for the suburbs of New York. The city is a different place now than it was in the 80s, I suppose; I wish I had the money to spend more than one week in New York City. (Of course, I don’t really have the money spend as little time there as I will be.)
Sunday, April 24, 1994
4 PM. I studied most of last evening and much of today. I’ll begin going through my notes again later and finish tomorrow morning, hopefully. Yesterday I read nearly all of the black-letter law of the trademark, copyright and patent laws that are found in our supplement. Today I read more cases and articles in legal newspapers about recent court decisions involving issues in intellectual property that will probably show up on the exam. I’ve been scribbling out some tests – for example, the eight Polaroid factors to test for “likelihood of confusion” or the four Section 107 factors to test for fair use. Finally, I looked through material I got in the Computers and the Law seminar, including helpful stuff from Harris Corporation’s chief patent counsel.
For me, studying is fairly relaxing, and while I’d prefer the security of an open-book final, the fact that I have a good memory might prove to be an advantage in a closed-book exam. I remember Marty Peters telling us in the firstsemester workshop on preparing for exams, “Now’s the chance to show off what you know,” and I am actually looking forward to the Intellectual Property final to see how well I can apply what I’ve learned. Probably I could do okay even if I didn’t study any further. I want to be careful that I don’t get so concerned with showing off what I know that I miss the obvious answers to straight-forward questions. I slept pretty well, although I’ve been battling an off-again, on-again postnasal drip and sore throat since yesterday afternoon. If I don’t get a cold before I leave for New York, I’m absolutely certain I’ll get one while I’m there. The last few times I’ve gone to New York City, I’ve gotten sick, partly because of change of weather and stress but also because the poorlycirculated air on jets makes me more susceptible to catching the easily-spread viruses of fellow passengers. I read a lot of today’s Times already, including four pages on Nixon, and I listened to and watched news on radio and TV. I did some light low-impact aerobics but didn’t get out much.
Yesterday I decided to put up a couple of batches of laundry, though I’ll need to do that again on Tuesday, which is sure to be a busy day. Not only will I have to turn in my grades at Santa Fe, which should take a considerable amount of time, but I’ll need to pack and buy whatever it is I need for the trip. I also have to take care of paying the rent and making sure the house is all set. Plus I have to call Ronna and remind her that I’ll be coming. On Wednesday I’ll have to call a cab very early. My flight leaves Gainesville at 7:50 AM. I don’t have to rush to change planes in Atlanta, however, as I’ve got an hour, assuming flights are on time. In any case, what’s the hurry? I’ll be free to do as I please for a few weeks. Part of me longs for the end of law school and the other part dreads ending what has been such a fulfilling experience. These three years in Gainesville have changed me. I never thought I’d find the study of the law as interesting as I did – nor did I expect I’d be one of the better students at UF College of Law. It’s now hard to believe that I have to take only one three-hour exam and I’ll have jumped all the hurdles necessary to get a law degree. It’s a good thing I picked law school instead of graduate school because at least after three years I’ve got something to show for it – and I mean something other people will recognize,
not the knowledge and inner growth I know I could have gotten anywhere. Three years ago at this time in late April, I was really scared about coming here. But I’d just gotten back from my magical week in California and I was finishing up the semester at Broward Community College and preparing to spend the summer in Rockaway. I see me now waiting for the train at the elevated station on Beach 105th Street, listening to my tape of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, which would finish before I got to Manhattan and my dinner date with Josh or Ronna or Alice. That summer of 1991 was special, from my trips to Woodmere to see Grandma Ethel at the nursing home to all the time I spent looking out at the ocean while I compiled my Thirties/Eighties diary manuscript in my little laptop computer at Grandma’s old desk. The last couple of summers in Gainesville, when I’ve been so hot and so poor, haven’t been as good as that summer of 1991, but I survived them, and I’ll get through the summer of ’94.
Monday, April 25, 1994
7 PM. Instead of being relieved or joyous that my final final examination in law school is over, I’ve been in a sour mood ever since I started
walking home once I realized how much I’d missed and how much I’d gotten plain wrong on Hunt’s final. How could he expect us to remember the standard for issuing preliminary injunctions in a copyright infringement action? (I went with the usual statement.) I missed a whole preemption question and I know I blew other answers. If I get a C+ or lower on the exam, there goes my High Honors. My only hope is that other people did a lot worse. And I can’t actually see Min or Judd or Jim or Lorraine getting what I missed. I did manage to show something of what I learned, but I feel that I couldn’t really show all I did know. Studying more wouldn’t have helped, although conceivably, studying less might have. Shit – the highest grade I deserve on that exam is a B, and I knew all that stuff yet still descended into giddy incoherence as the test wore me down. Last year Donna came out of the Intellectual Property exam thinking she’d aced it and ended up with a C, so maybe it’s a good sign that I know enough to know what I missed. Above all, I’m annoyed with myself for even caring. I got a letter from Tom in Stuttgart today, and he sounds so happy, I find myself sour with envy over his life: he’s teaching fascinating courses,
lecturing in German and foreign universities, and getting well-paid for it, too – and he got an $11,000 royalty check from Bantam for that SF novel he co-wrote. My problem with envy is no sooner do I feel it than I feel worse for having stooped to feel it. I see envy as the sign of my own failure more than any of the facts of my life as compared with Tom’s. Probably this is just a reaction to the end of law school. I knew I’d feel a letdown. My stomach feels icky, and it’s because I’m in such a bad mood I’m not digesting properly. Otherwise I never get stomach-aches anymore. Well, I’ll just do nothing tonight – or do whatever. I feel like I’ll leave grading papers, preparing and packing until tomorrow. Last evening I reread my notes outside by the pool from 5 PM to 6 PM and again from about 7 PM until dark. I finished going over my notes this morning, and then I finished skimming what I’d starred and highlighted in the text. I do enjoy studying, and I’ll miss it. Ah well, I’ve got that “Is that all there is?” feeling. Remember after I graduated from Brooklyn College in June 1973 and my parents took me to The Floridian diner for lunch? I spilled a glass of Coke and was in a foul mood. At least right now nobody else has to put with me. Deep breath.
Sunday, April 26, 1992
5 PM. One reason I didn’t do well on yesterday’s Con Law exam is I forgot to state the obvious – in three questions. I merely assumed the First Amendment freedom of the press, the Fifth Amendment takings clause, and the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure applied to the states; I didn’t mention their incorporation by the Fourteenth Amendment. My level of sophistication about Constitutional law probably worked against me, unless Baldwin can tell by the cases I cited and the terms I used in my arguments, that I knew what I was talking about. We’ll see. In the meantime, I should just forget about Con Law; I still have four finals to go. But I don’t really mind thinking about the last test because it did give me intellectual pleasure, and the more I see what I didn’t see, the more interesting it seems. I’ve been studying Torts since last night, and I feel I have a better handle on the material because, unlike last term, it’s divided into more discrete units: intentional torts, product liability, defamation, etc. My notes are pretty good, and I started indexing them.
I figure it’s not how much you study, but how well you study. More study for Baldwin’s class probably would have made my answers yesterday worse. At least I know that if he bumps anyone up one letter grade for attendance and participation, that will be me, so I still might get an A or B+. I spoke to my parents last night. Today they started the Miami menswear show. Dad has to go to L.A. for a two-day sales meeting, and the salesmen are up in arms about the high air fares; Dad is using his frequent flyer mileage for a free trip. He said Marc got a cheap flight on the new Braniff to New York in June. I wish I could go to New York City during my break, but as I told my parents, I’ll be lucky if I don’t need their help to get through this coming week. At least I’m paying my rent for May, and then I’ve got only two more months at $450 before I move to a cheaper apartment. I watched a little junk on ABC – the final episodes of some sitcoms – between studying last night. Up today at 7 AM, I went out only to get the Times and mail my unemployment claim card. By 11 AM today, I’d exercised and read most of the paper. At least it’s been a gorgeous day, dry and nice and cool. Lately, it’s begun to get oppressively hot and humid, and it will be hot here until October.
* 9 PM. In the bathroom just now, I recoiled from my own filth. After finals, I’ve got to do some cleaning. I’d better move to another place or I’ll make this one uninhabitable. Of course, the undergraduates around here may keep house worse than I do, but I don’t want to imagine that. I took a break at 5:30 PM and went out, browsing in a bookstore, and bringing home a McLean Deluxe for dinner. I’ve finished reading and indexing all my Torts notes and study materials. Tomorrow I’ll read around in the Prosser and Keeton hornbook and look at Property stuff. Already I feel prepared enough that I could take the Torts exam tomorrow. Hey, but I don’t have to do it then and I have more time to study. For the first Monday since spring break, I can sleep late. Not that I ever sleep late, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to leave here at 7:15 AM. I find myself feeling antsy right now, but I think I’m merely overtired and studied-out. Once again I tried to call Ronna; she never seems to be home. I hope at least she’s out having a good time somewhere. As much as I’ve looked forward to the end of the term, I’ll probably find myself feeling lonely and lost. Going to New York City over Christmas and
to Fort Lauderdale for spring break provided me with new surroundings and lots of company. Apart from law school, I don’t really have any friends in Gainesville. It’s an exceedingly rare day when my phone rings and it isn’t someone calling from New York or South Florida, and I don’t get too many of those calls, either. Have I lost the ability to make close friends? I’ve never been to any of my classmates’ homes except Angelina’s, Kim’s and Emira’s.
Tuesday, April 27, 1993
1:30 PM. An hour ago I got out of D.T.’s Estates and Trusts final, and I’m still – what’s the word they used to use for astronauts after their space capsules splashed down? – debriefing. I’m still debriefing myself, and I’ve discovered stuff I neglected to put in or mistakes I made or even the stuff that I got right but probably didn’t explain well enough so that D.T. could see where my reasoning came from. Oh well. There wasn’t really time pressure, but I could have used an extra fifteen minutes. Still, the middle question, on how the Rule Against Perpetuities works in regard to powers of appointment, simply blew my mind. He had a power created by another power – something we never covered – and the recursiveness of it gave me a terrible feeling of
vertigo of the brain. Of course, that means I understood the question even if I got flummoxed as to the answer. As usual, I talked to other people afterwards, and that’s always a mistake although I’m glad I learned that Karin and others also didn’t make use of all the space he gave for the answers. Usually I figure I’m a good judge of how people do generally. I’d be surprised by an A in Estates and Trusts, delighted with a B+, satisfied with a B, and disappointed with anything lower although I think it’s possible I got a C+ if everyone studied a lot more than I did. Actually, more studying wouldn’t have helped. What’s hard now is to get the Estates and Trusts material out of my brain. At least I slept well last night and felt okay today; though my nose is still a bit stuffed and my chest slightly congested. Half of my fourteen credits this term are decided. I’ve got Nunn’s two finals in Crim Pro and Race Relations and Slobogin’s in Professional Responsibility, but I can’t start studying right away. D.T.’s was the only final with long essays; the others will be shorter essays, short answer, or multiple choice. I guess I’ll read the paper or watch the soaps or take a ride, as I need to unwind for a few hours. *
4 PM and I haven’t unwound yet. I just exercised to a tape and went out to get the mail, which was only a brochure for some California writers’ conference. There’s been a real drought of mail lately. I feel disappointed because I realized I missed a very elementary Rule Against Perpetuities problem on the exam, something I knew easily. I now can’t imagine getting an A on the exam, and probably not a B+, either. Hopefully I spotted some issues others didn’t so I can make up for that failure and at least get a B. I’ve got to stop thinking about that test. It’s over, and I did the best I could at the time. On Lexis, I discovered yesterday’s Washington Post had a review of Mondo Barbie on the first page of the Style section. By Barbara Raskin, it was pretty positive – it’s hard to see how the book can be totally panned – and once again my name didn’t come up, nor did my story. Obviously, I can’t get excited about these reviews that don’t say anything about my work. There’s not much point in my xeroxing copies of the reviews, is there? Of course I still feel a part of the anthology. Hey, Rick and Lucinda, the editors, don’t always get mentioned more than once, and it’s their book. I got spoiled by being mentioned in the early reviews. Anyway, the bigger the book
does, the better off I am in terms of people reading my story. I just feel the need to be recognized and feel validated. I know, it’s pathetic that I can’t be satisfied by just being in the collection with more important writers. Hey, imagine how I’d feel if my story weren’t there. I’m an asshole, I know. I did watch One Life to Live and printed out some Nexis articles on race law, and I went out to sell back my Estates and Trusts and Legal Drafting texts. I know I could get more than $13 if I waited till the fall when they’ll be on order, but I wanted to get rid of the books right away. This term was horrendously expensive in terms of texts and supplemental materials. I’ll keep the Crim Pro book in case Baldwin uses it in Police Practices. Today’s Teresa’s birthday, and I should give her a call now. In the Times I read that Barnes and Noble opened a new superstore on the block of Broadway between 82nd and 83rd that had been becoming vacant, store by store, for years.
Tuesday, April 28, 1992
11:30 AM. My Torts final is at 2 PM and I’ve done all the studying I care to. I find myself feeling rebellious and unwilling to play the law
school game, and I feel stupid for being suckered into it by my grades and book awards last term. Lawyers are so self-aggrandizing, and this silly mystique that they build up about their profession begins at such an early stage in their careers, it’s no wonder that that after twenty years, most attorneys are miserable. Most lawyers probably wouldn’t become lawyers if they knew what they were getting themselves into. I see my young classmates, so eager to play good little boys and girls, and a few of them are so competitive, they’re already rooting for others’ failure. I have a lot more respect for the law than I used to, but if anything, my low opinion of lawyers is now even lower. Maybe I could do some good as a teacher of paralegals, who could probably do 90% of the work of lawyers with more efficiency and less cost. And they’d save time by not spending so many hours patting each other on the back. Imagine the concept of “ranking” and “booking” within the graduate programs I’ve been in: the M.A. in English at Richmond, the M.F.A. in creative writing at Brooklyn, the various graduate courses in education I’ve taken. Writers and teachers do important work, but they don’t – I was about to say they don’t take themselves so seriously, but then I thought of
all the pompous academics and career-schemer writers I’ve come across. Okay, so law may be no worse than other professions, and the issue is me, my rebellion against authority. I tend to think my attitude is healthy. I’m proud that I’ve resisted “thinking like a lawyer,” but maybe I’m just childish. Am I not buying into the system because I know I couldn’t possibly succeed in it? Last evening I watched a PBS Travels program on Los Angeles. A year after I left L.A., I find I’m still fascinated by the place and would like to live there, despite all the problems. I still love New York City, but I sort of love Los Angeles, too, and yes, I also do love Miami. Gainesville is pretty and quiet and relaxing, but to me, it’s not a city. There’s not enough sense of danger here. * 5:30 PM. My head feels like a punching bag after the Torts exam. I don’t have a good feeling about my performance on this test, and I wouldn’t be shocked to get a C. I doubt that my answers reached the B level I did last term, and Dowd is notoriously quirky in her grading; nobody can figure out what standards she uses. The exam was long, and I felt time-pressured. I spent too much time on one question and then started panicking because I didn’t have enough time for the others. Oh well, at least I’m not
standing around with everyone else: discussing the exam is bad news. I plan to put away my Torts casebook and hornbook and sell them as soon as possible. Before I left for school, I got the expected letter from AmEx canceling my Optima card. They’ve suffered heavy losses with it, and no wonder: after I stiffed them for $17,000, they turned around and gave me a $1000 credit line. At least I got use out of it. Well. My brain seems to have stopped functioning after that exam. A lot of people go out drinking after afternoon exams, but of course I retreat into my solitude. What will I do tonight? Veg out, probably. Tomorrow’s review session for Property is at 9 AM. Last night I began reviewing, but I feel more unsure about Property and the remaining two tests than I did about the last two (which I probably did lousy on). Who cares? Well, partly I do – but actually, a part of me wishes that I had gotten C’s last term and could just have gotten the bad grades over with. I feel I wrote so inarticulately today on the exam. I feel inarticulate now.
Friday, April 29, 1994
1 PM. Yesterday, after I got back from my first visit to Alice’s swanky new apartment – I’m still surprised when she said she needed a new career once she and Judy are finished with the menopause book – I hung out here at Ronna’s for a while, and then went back downtown, taking the IRT to 42nd Street and transferring to the R and getting off at 8th Street. Josh looked the same and I knew exactly what he’d say to me: “You kept the weight off.” I’d forgotten how small Josh’s apartment was – but as he says, he doesn’t mind that he’d have to sell it at a loss because he doesn’t plan to sell it. Sharon, his girlfriend, a cute doctoral student in occupational therapy – I’d say she’s about 28 – joined us, distraught over an apartment hunt that didn’t go well. She’s been living in the NYU dorm across the street and needs a new place to live. While I was there, Josh called an ex-colleague in Philly who owns an apartment on Broadway and 10th to see if he could get Sharon into it. We went out, and since Josh said Sharon is a vegetarian on a low-fat diet, I suggested Quantum Leap on West 3rd Street, where I’ve gone with both Stacy and Pete. Neither Sharon nor Josh had ever gone there, but they agreed it was a good choice. Josh told me he invested money to buy 9% of a bar called KGB. Denis owns 57%, and it’s upstairs from the Kraine art gallery and theater (KGB=Kraine Gallery Bar). Josh called Denis to
tell him I was in and that we were coming over to the bar. Denis wasn’t there, although we did see Melinda, the mother of Denis’ baby. I liked Sharon a lot, and I think she’ll have an interesting spin on the Brooklyn College reunion tomorrow evening. Josh also persuaded Harry to come although he was now trying to get out of it, saying he’d had a bad haircut. Josh says he’s dressing casually and not in a suit; he’ll go over to BC from his parents’ house. He sleeps over there periodically and said his father is “Auschwitz-thin” and has a problem differentiating day and night but he’s still belligerent and feisty and says there’s nothing wrong with him. Josh had described KGB as a dive, but it wasn’t bad. It’s a small room, and there weren’t many people there, but it had a pleasant atmosphere: dark red everywhere and old Communist posters and Soviet memorabilia. Josh bought me a club soda, just as he had paid form my dinner. Everyone – Ronna, Alice, Teresa, and Josh so far – wants to ask me what I’m going to be doing with my life, and each person has his or her idea of what I should do that usually corresponds to what he or she would like to do. I was tired by 9:30 PM, and Josh and Sharon walked me to the subway. I’d forgotten how crowded the train can be at that hour. I love to look at New Yorkers on
trains and in the streets. There’s the same energy here I’ve always felt, but somehow people seem to be nicer, more polite – even storeowners. I arrived home just before Ronna did. Tonight we’re finally going to spend time together, going to dinner and a movie. Pete and I talked this morning. He has a friend coming in from Zimbabwe so he’s not sure when he can see me – plus, he’s returning to work on Monday. Justin also left a message while I was wandering the Upper West Side this morning: he had terrible sinus problems and was home sick today. I’ve felt tired today. Even my brief forays around Manhattan have been so full of observations and seem more important than they really are. Like my week in Los Angeles three years ago, I know I’m deliberately storing up a lot of “material” to get me through my next prolonged period away from New York City. * 11 PM. Walking down Broadway to meet Ronna this evening, I saw the usual show of oddlydressed characters (a bum with dollar bills sticking out under his cap, cops pulling over and arresting a drug dealer, a woman vomiting, a tuba player, etc.) and New York City scenes.
In front of the theater as I waited, I watched a group of mostly older women who spread out the banner “Ruth Retires! First Woman Union Projectionist: 1972-1994!” and had champagne and mylar balloons ready for the surprised Ruth as she came out of her last day at the Loew’s 84th Street sixplex. Ronna and I went to the 6:30 PM showing of John Waters’ Serial Mom, which was pretty cute; I like Waters’ sensibility so much. Afterwards we had dinner at Ollie’s across the street and then strolled home, stopping to get some food at the Food Emporium and a new health-food supermarket, where I got jewel and garnet sweet potatoes. Starbucks, a Seattle espresso bar, opened yesterday at Broadway and 87th, while 86th Street now has the designation “Isaac Bashevis Singer Blvd.” Teresa’s old block is now part of a historic district, said the new brown street signs. I love upper Broadway.
Friday, April 30, 1993
4 PM. For the last hour, I’ve been working on the CALI exercise on the Model Rules in preparation for Monday’s Professional Responsibility exam. I need to concentrate on Criminal Procedure this weekend, so I’m glad I could get this in today.
Luckily, Nunn’s Race Relations final wasn’t one that required a lot of reentry time afterwards. The ten questions were straight-forward essays, and we had to pick five of them to answer in two lined pages. I printed carefully and tried to write well, citing a lot of sources rather than just relying on my own knowledge, and I hope that strategy works. Anyway, I enjoyed the test and felt it allowed me to show what I’d learned in class. I’d like to get at least a B+ in the class, but in any case, I’m glad I took Race Relations Law. Last night, after watching The Simpsons and reading zine reviews in Factsheet Five, I fell asleep and had a restful night, so I can’t use any excuses for my performance on today’s test. I finished a few minutes early and left school right away to spend an hour in the public library, where I read magazines and newspapers and xeroxed the Washington Post review from Monday. (Yesterday’s Record in Northern New Jersey reprinted the Takahama review, so somebody in the New York City area saw my name in print in connection with Mondo Barbie.) Back home, I had lunch and began reading the paper and then I exercised before starting on the computer-assisted instruction disk. Two down and two to go. Actually, I’ve finished four finals, given the mini-finals in the course
with foreign professors. Anna and I speculated whether Hamann has already figured out our grades in Transboundary Environmental Issues. I suspect the grades there will tend to bunch in the middle because he’s got three exams by three professors, so it’s likely higher scores in one test were canceled out by a lower score in another. In that class, I wouldn’t be surprised by any grade, though I’d like to get a B. Of course, ultimately it’s Hamann’s curve, and he’s a notoriously low grader. If I got a C+ or even a C, I don’t see how I could complain. In any case, I never complain about grades. As a teacher, I know how random they can be. Next week at this time I’ll be in New York City. Probably I’ll go out to see Grandma Ethel next Friday. Probably it would be smart to call first, but I’d like to surprise her. I won’t have much time in New York City, and it’s going to be hard to see everybody in just one week. That’s why I haven’t told some people I’m coming. I’d like to see Grandma at least twice, and also Alice, and Pete (although I’ve seen him just a few months ago in Fort Lauderdale) and I guess Teresa (it’ll be difficult because she doesn’t come into the city very often) and Justin and David, and Josh and maybe Aunt Tillie and Mikey, though I may just telephone the latter two.
I’ve got to buy Ronna and Leah something for the apartment, and I’m going to try to pack light – which is difficult for me even when I go away for only a week. Because I know how expensive Manhattan food is, I want to bring packets of oatmeal and grits and whatever food I can. It will be strange for my stomach to be off my usual diet, but I’ll do the best I can, as I did when I went to California two years ago. Ronna has a VCR, so I’ll put in one exercise tape, though I’ll try not to get too rigid about my routines. One week won’t be of any consequence in regard to my diet, sleep or exercise – just as long as I don’t get sick. Obviously, I’ll still have a little immunity to cold germs. Today’s the first day in nearly two weeks that I don’t feel sick or congested.
Sunday, May 1, 1994
4 PM. “Reunions are always bittersweet,” Scott last night, but for myself, I found our twentieth reunion gratifying. Ronna and I left here at this time yesterday, late as usual, supposedly to go to Susan and Evan’s house. Earlier, I head spoken to Teresa, who gave me a song and dance about her car needing a new
radiator and how she’d bought a dress and shoes yesterday and how she might come if she could get a car. But I’ve lived with Teresa enough to know how she lies to get out of things, and I felt it was just as well. The money I spent on her ticket at least preserves our relationship. Ronna and I had one of those nightmare subway experiences where, after five trains, we ended up back on the #2 to Flatbush Avenue that we had been on to begin with, and we were too late to get to Susan’s. I didn’t really mind (and I felt unexpressed satisfaction that I was right to suggest that we stay on it till Atlantic Avenue, at least) although I felt odd because I’m not used to wearing a suit. And Dad’s shoes were so big on me that I wore white athletic socks under my black dress socks. I’ve been to the Junction many times, most recently a year ago, but Ronna hadn’t been there in quite a while, and everything looked strange to her. There are new gates set up at all the campus entrances (Evan was right when he said as we later went through one of them, “Passport?” because they had the aura of a security checkpoint). Ronna and I walked around the campus, which looked pretty, with the lilacs and apple blossoms in bloom. In LaGuardia Hall, we went to the bathrooms and looked at the now-empty,
sterile lobby that had been the focus of our activity as undergraduates. In Boylan’s central corridor on the second floor, I saw how many English professors from our day haven’t yet retired. I saw that Susan has to share an office with Baumbach, Spielberg and Gelber. Ronna and I then went to SUBO to register, getting a packet full of stuff I haven’t yet looked at carefully. It was with trepidation that I entered the basement of SUBO for our class reunion reception. Seeing Ronna’s friends was a bit of shock. Felicia had gotten heavier and so old-looking; her husband is a bald guy and not the handsome 22-year-old I met only once, on a double-date. Evan had a gray beard but I’d have recognized him right away and Susan looked pretty good although her voice was hoarse (later Ronna told me Susan damaged her vocal cords yelling at her kids). At one table I spotted Janie and Nappy, good friends from the old days. Janice said she’d seen reviews of my book and I had seen her byline as a freelancer in the Times, and I knew from the papers that Nappy had once been associated with Saturday Night Live; he’s a stagehand at NBC, now working on Today. Like a lot of people, Mike and Mandy looked like TV multigenerational miniseries versions of
themselves – that is, everyone appeared to be wearing padding and facial prostheses and makeup to make them look old. Mike’s hair, which I remember as blond, was a mixture of steel-gray and silver, and it had receded, and he was somewhat stout. Mandy had become heavy-set in the way that Mom got like that in her forties. But, like everyone else, their gestures and voices were the same. My voice was what Carol said she recognized as we embraced. She told me that if I hadn’t spoken, she never would have recognized me in a million years. She looked older, but pretty good for the mother of two teenagers, and I shook hands with her husband, whom I recall vaguely. One redheaded woman looked very familiar to me, and I to her, but our names didn’t ring a bell with one another, and we couldn’t figure out where we knew each other from, unless it was just as faces in the undergraduate crowd. I kissed Marie and Stuie, and Marie told me that there were about 7200 people in the classes of ‘73/’74. The planning committee had the whole list. Mike, Carol and Marie were kind enough to keep my name on the committee and put me in a photo with its members and introduce me at the dinner; that was thoughtful, but more importantly, it showed that people liked me. (Do I sound like Sally Field at the Oscars?)
Josh, Harry and Sharon arrived, and as I told Sharon at the end of the evening, this is something she can hold over Josh for years: that she was good enough to come to a reunion that must have bored her to tears. Harry looked fine, and he knew Marie and Stuie from their work together at the Housing Authority. Scott looked good, though of course I already know him as a gray-haired man with glasses. His older brother had come for a reunion of George House, and so had George Czutrin (with his wife Lynne) from Canada – he’s a distinguished attorney in Toronto. (Alice had told me George had been the person who had come the farthest for our Midwood High School reunion.) Another of the George House members there, and also someone I know from high school, was Henry Yuk, as bald as he was in his appearance in Radio Days. Ronna and her friends went to the Boylan bookstore to buy Brooklyn College items and misses of classes’ photo, which was scheduled between the class of ’69 and the ZBT fraternity. Our dinner reception was on the fourth floor, and Josh grabbed an empty table for ten: we had three seats for him and his friends; six for me and Ronna and her friends; and one extra for Scott, who also spent time sitting with his brother.
The dinners were pretty bad, but I was so hungry I ate whatever it was they put in my vegetarian entrée. Hilary Gold, who looks about the same age as some of the people in the room, was the first speaker; he’s still BC’s vice president. The new president, Vernon Lattin, spoke excitedly about his plans for the college. Then we heard from the head of the alumni association and finally Mike, who thanked various people and made a few announcements. At 9 PM or so, we went over to Boylan cafeteria (now dining hall) for dessert, dancing and talk. I chatted with Scott for a while: he really loves being a father, said I should look up cases he’s argued before the New York Court of Appeals, and invited me to a party at his house in two weeks (which I can’t attend). I recognized Nancy at about the same time Nappy did; Nancy seemed as bubbly as ever. She lives in Bay Shore with her husband and two kids and teaches biology at Stony Brook. It was really great to again see Nancy, who said she’d hoped Vito or Tony would show up (“I worry about them”), just as I had. Nancy introduced Carmine, who looked great: he’s living in Falmouth – Felicia asked him if worked at Woods Hole, and he did – doing his oceanography, writing science books, and TV shows for kids. I admired photos of the cute kids of Susan and Evan and of Felicia and Michael and listened to
stories about them. Felicia, an art librarian at Harvard, took my E-mail address and told me that being a law librarian is a very good profession (I’m thinking about it more and more). On our way out, I explained to older alumni and to Sharon, who was too young to remember IBM punch cards, the meaning of a sign carried by a guy from the of Class of ’69 that said, “Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate.” We were all tired and said our goodbyes around 10:30 PM. Harry called a car service for him, Josh and Sharon, and Scott got on to call another one for me, Ronna and himself. Our car came first, and Scott, the ex-cabby (he still keeps his chauffeur’s license, “just in case”) approved of the driver taking Ocean Parkway to the tunnel and FDR Drive to Grand Central, where he got the train back to Hartsdale (too bad he had to wait 45 minutes). Ronna and I went on uptown, and once home, we put on our gold-and-maroon 20th anniversary T-shirts and dished the reunion. Some of the people whom we didn’t know (and that included most of the crowd there) looked so old compared to us – especially the fat, gray-haired or balding men. I know I was probably the youngest-looking guy there, though I look nothing like the shaggyhaired kid on my yearbook photo button. Ronna
said she was glad we went, and so am I. I’d like to go to the 25th reunion, too.
Saturday, May 2, 1992
2 PM. I’ve been slowly going through my Civ Pro notes and I’ve stopped at supplemental jurisdiction because I can’t understand its complexities. I figured I need to do some Civ Pro before working on Contracts tomorrow and Monday because the Wednesday exam won’t give me enough time to study for Civ Pro. I should have used last night’s insomnia to study, but I couldn’t bring myself to read anything having to do with law. Although I fell asleep right after the news shows and Bush’s speech (it was okay, but he never addressed the race issue – nobody talks about it), I woke up at 11:30 PM to watch Nightline coming from a church in South Central L.A. I lay awake from 12:30 AM to nearly 4 AM, my mind racing with trivia. I ruminated about what I left out of the Property exam and how I could have written a much better test if I’d known what kind of exam Julin was giving. Oh Well.
I see in today’s Sun that “many members of Law Review who are in the top 15 percent of the graduating class still don’t have jobs.” Even if I wanted a job in law, I couldn’t get it, so why should I worry? Actually, I’m pleased to see lawyers facing the kind of tough times I did as a college instructor and writer. It’s the same impulse that made me want to see an economic depression or that takes some satisfaction in the urban riots. At least people are facing a bit of reality and not living in that movie-set fool’s paradise of the self-centered 80s. “No justice, no peace” is today’s rallying cry, one I endorse. I’m cynical (or experienced) enough to know it’s too late for America to come to grips with its problems, but at least people are now starting to realize how they were conned. If anything, a year in law school has made me more radicalized than I was last year. In the AWP Chronicle, I read some good stuff that quoted Vaclav Havel and also criticized MFA programs for producing students and faculty who create “beautifully crafted nonsense” – because they have absolutely nothing to say. I know now I never would have been happy had I achieved a tenure-track job teaching short story writing; I’d have gotten restless after a year, or worse, I would have stayed on and gotten comfortable.
Boy, I’m really sounding off like a crackpot today. I guess I am seen as a crackpot by people who read stuff of mine. Who cares? Today is graduation for undergrads, and some of my neighbors are moving out. Yesterday the rental office brought a couple and their daughter over so they could see the floor plan of my apartment. My throat is fine now, by the way; I’m just a bit dizzy. Can I face getting back to Civil Procedure? Sometimes I think I’ll either do okay on these finals or I won’t, and that most of the decision has already been made. But the exams are an intellectual challenge for me.
Sunday, May 3, 1992
8 PM. I’ve been studying Contracts off and on today, but not driving myself crazy. Yesterday I went to the law school in the afternoon because I needed a change of pace, and it was nice to see Dan, Martin and Albert there. I got some cases from Lexis that deal with issues in Civ Pro, and I stayed up till 11 PM reading them. I think it’s a good way to study, and maybe I’ll luck out and Mashburn will use a recent case the way she did last year. Gainesville has emptied out a bit. This afternoon when I took a break and walked to
Baskin-Robbins for some fat-free Jamoca “ice cream,” the streets were nearly deserted. A lot of my neighbors have packed up and left town, and again another person came by to look at the floor plan of the apartment. Up at 8 AM, I read the paper and spent the rest of the morning with the news shows. The rioting has stopped and the cleanup has begun. It should be no surprise to me that the Simi Valley jury acquitted the cops who beat Rodney King. After all, I witnessed an all-white jury convict Charles Freeman of selling an obscene record, and it was clear to me they were acting out of racism, whether they knew it or not. (The jury who acquitted 2 Live Crew was integrated.) So anyway, I made up an attack outline for Contracts and did some Emanuel’s First-Year Questions and I sat out on the patio until 6 PM, when I came in to watch ABC News and Life Goes On, a program I began to watch regularly a few months ago. I find I need to follow a couple of “stories” – soap operas or whatever. I catch ABC’s All My Children sometimes and I watch 90210 on Thursdays. Dad called this evening. He has to go to Los Angeles in two weeks, but he’s not concerned, and thankfully, the company is giving the salesmen $500 for the trip. Dad spent $600 on car repairs, which upset him, and he said
Grandma Ethel called collect yesterday and sounded okay. Mom, of course, was fast asleep although it was 7 PM when her mother phoned. Ronna just called, and it was great to finally be in touch. She sounded fine although she told me she’s been a little depressed. Steve and Ronna saw each other for a while and even went to a therapist together, but they broke up because Ronna didn’t want to get engaged – which was Steve’s condition precedent (I know, too much studying) for “working on the relationship.” I guess she also feels weird, at least a bit, about Jordan’s wedding next month. He’s asked her, among other friends, to walk down the aisle at the ceremony. Ronna loves work at Hadassah and spent today at the Israeli Day parade, but most of her friends are now young marrieds with kids and are keeping to themselves. She has decided to spring for an ad in New York magazine and figures she should start seeing new people. Her mother visited for ten days, and they met her uncle and aunt’s new adopted sons, two black brothers, Darryl, 10 and Jamal, 8. Abe and Cara bought a house in Seattle on one of the islands in Puget Sound and will move there in a few years. It’s good to see some people giving black male kids a good home, although I’m sure their sons are also enriching Abe and Cara’s lives.
Sometimes I envy Ronna her close-knit clan and many cousins. She said they got off work early on Friday as rumors of riots hit New York City, but no violence erupted except for a few minor incidents. Ronna was a joy to speak with. I need to connect periodically with the important people in my life since I’m now so isolated from everything but law school. I’d planned to study more, but I think I’ll call it a night. Last night I had a happy dream about taking a cross-country bus ride with Sat Darshan.
Tuesday, May 4, 1993
7 PM. I had a bad night. Not only did my lower back and calves hurt, but my front capped teeth were wobbling and I couldn’t sleep because Criminal Procedure cases kept buzzing around my brain. I felt as if I’m a month away from my 82nd, not my 42nd, birthday. Tonight my body still doesn’t feel that great, but I’m relaxed because my second year of law school is over! I know it won’t seem like that two weeks from today, when I’ll be back in summer school, but it’s true. This morning I studied till 11 AM (I
always follow Marty Peters’ advice to stop at that hour when I’ve got an afternoon exam). I arrived at school 45 minutes early to bullshit with the gang. Marc R and Donna had just finished their own last final and were as giddy as the rest of us would feel at 5 PM. A lot of my friends are in Crim Pro: Bob, Laura, Lee, Jane, Derrick, Dawn, both Dougs, Robyn, Kenny H, Rich, Rick and Lawrence. Nunn’s final was forty multiple choice questions and two single-page think-piece essays on jury nullification and plea bargaining. Multiple choice is usually very hard because the questions can be both ambiguous and tricky. I tried to work my way to the right answers and expect I did about average. After I wrote the short essays, I had nearly an hour to go over the multiple choice questions, so I can’t say I felt time-pressured. Laura and I took our exams up to the office just before the officially 5 PM end of the test. I felt much better when we came out to the ground floor and chatted with some people. As usual, I decided not to join the group going over to a bar but instead, after I said goodbye to people who’ll be going away for the summer, I came home and had dinner. Marsha said I should visit her in Tallahassee when I come up there for the arts council panel meeting. She’s volunteering to clerk for the newest state Supreme Court justice, and she’s sublet an apartment from FSU law students.
After dinner, I needed to go out, so I went downtown to the public library, where I found and xeroxed Margo Kaufman’s nice little review of Mondo Barbie (which mentioned my story) above the Los Angeles Times’ bestseller list in the Sunday paper. I’ll read the Times and veg out on TV tonight.
Thursday, May 5, 1994
4 PM. I’ve had a throbbing headache for hours. At first I thought it was from hunger, but now I believe it’s a sinus headache. Justin wasn’t feeling well, either, due to a sinus problem, when I saw him last night. We ate at Empire Szechuan, which has expanded and is refurbished nicely. Since Justin and I have spoken fairly regularly lately, we didn’t have that much to catch up on. He did give me details about how his two oneact plays are getting to Edinburgh. The woman who produced his play at the Hotel Macklowe’s theater is the force behind this, and she’s excellent at details, including getting financial backing. Justin had a say in the casting and Chuck Marion – whom I passed this afternoon on Broadway – will direct.
Britain’s Channel 4 is doing a documentary on the festival and has decided to follow several groups, including the one doing Justin’s play – though he says he can’t imagine what he’ll say if he were interviewed. Justin finds it ironic that Bindings was produced this year and he’s getting his other plays done when he’s hardly written at all this year. He does love teaching at Brooklyn College, and although he’s demanding – he requires his students to do a lot of writing, including a journal, which gives him a lot more work – they seem to enjoy his directing and acting classes a lot. I spoke about my own experiences teaching plays in English 1102 at Santa Fe Community College this term. Justin and I also talked about his use of CompuServe and my use of Delphi and the Internet. Before returning to Brooklyn, he came here to Ronna’s for half an hour. Justin looks better than he did last year – but of course then I saw him made up to play an old man in that Strindberg play. Ronna came home at about 11 PM, and I gave her the phone messages I’d taken. Her sister had called from Philadelphia and told me she likes it there (“it’s a smaller, more manageable New York City”) and enjoys her job; her pregnancy is going okay, but Jim has been unemployed for a couple of months.
Ronna seemed happy and said she had worked out stuff with Joel. – God, it’s been hard to write this, because I’m really feeling sick. Not only does my head ache terribly, but my stomach has been very rocky today. Because I’ve been eating so much salad bar in New York, as opposed to the cooked vegetables I eat at home, I’ve been very gassy and my stool has been very soft. (I know that’s disgusting, but this diary is for me, not for the general public.) I did sleep well last night, and this morning I taped three Body Electric programs and one of Homestretch: Ronna’s got all the PBS stations and they run on several of them; I’ve now got my first collection of exercise shows from Body Electric’s last couple of seasons. I exercised to two shows for an hour, knowing I probably won’t get to work out this weekend. After calling Mikey and making arrangements to go to his place on 69th and Second at 7:30 PM (Missy’s in D.C. for the day), I went out. Ronna had asked me to get her Alice’s book, and I bought two copies at Barnes and Noble, spending nearly an hour reading various reference books there. In the Best Law Schools 1994, I noted that the University of Florida law school certainly was a great bargain; places like Nova, Stetson, Cardozo and Brooklyn are more than four times as expensive.
The University of Florida offers an M.A., not an M.L.S., and their Library, Media and Information Science is in the College of Education: that’s disappointing, especially since I seem to be more and more favorably disposed towards moving to Tampa/ St. Pete. Florida State has a better library program, but I’d much rather live in Tampa than Tallahassee: it’s a bigger metro area with a better (warmer) climate, and it’s less isolated and less Southern. I wonder if there are any messages at home for me to go on interviews for teaching jobs. I doubt it, but I’ll find out when I’m back in Gainesville next week. At the Met, I spent three hours this afternoon, taking in their exhibit Waist Not! In the Costume Institute – a lecturer took us around to see how the waist has migrated since the early 1800s – and the familiar European paintings and sculpture and the Sackler Galleries of Egyptian art and lots more. I was disappointed I couldn’t find David at the Acousti-Guide stands. * 11 PM. I was feeling so sick earlier that I decided that the decongestants and Tylenol weren’t helping, so I went into Ronna’s bathroom and took a Q-tip and forced myself to sneeze repeatedly. Gradually that seemed to
open up my head a bit, and I felt better by the time I left to see Mikey. It was a pleasantly mild evening, and the 96th Street and Second Avenue buses weren’t crowded. Mikey came down after the doorman buzzed him. I suspect Missy was not in D.C. on business but just didn’t feel like going out – not that I cared. Mikey said it had been a hectic week, not only because of work but also problems renting an outdoor space where they can hold a wedding in July. (“At our age, why wait?” She’s a week younger than he is.) Apparently Missy’s parents are causing problems, and Mikey just didn’t want to get into it. After a stop at the Citibank ATM, we went to this place on First Avenue, the Hi-Life Café, where he’d never been before. Mikey always was a big eater and drinker; I remember meals with him and Amy in which they’d devour enough red meat to last me a year. I had a pizza margherita and tried not to eat too much of it. Mikey drank three margaritas, the last one for dessert (which I thought excessive). Mikey tends to argue and he couldn’t understand why I liked law school when no one else does, why I’d prefer theory to practice, why if I’m running for the Senate, did I tell the newspaper I’d quit before my term was up.
There was no way to argue back or even explain. I can understand Mikey: he wanted all his life to be a lawyer and had to struggle to get into law school. Once there, he “busted [his] butt” and got bad grades anyway. In contrast, I didn’t care about being a lawyer and I’m graduating tenth in my class, as if on a lark. No wonder it offends him. Anyway, I asked him about Missy. She trained as a journalist, lived in Paris as an AP correspondent, worked at 60 Minutes and eventually became Steve Ross’s right-hand PR person at Time Warner. Currently she’s still at the company, embarrassed to be working on their four-city cable startup of an upscale shopping network. Mike’s reading Connie Bruck’s recent biography of Ross; to me, he sounds like a highly overpaid monster, but what do I know? I’m just some nobody who orders the cheapest item on the menu and then is relieved when someone offers to pay for me.
Wednesday, May 6, 1992
4 PM. I’m writing this on the floor, because my usual writing-place, the bed, is covered with papers and books, post-it notes and other paraphernalia. I’ve been studying Civil Procedure since 8:30 AM and I can’t go on.
As on Saturday, I got up to supplementary jurisdiction, and at that point, my circuits got overloaded. On Saturday night, the rest of the course seemed to make more sense, so I’m hoping it will later today as well. Our review session is at 5:30 PM, and I have only one question I’d like to ask Mashburn: When you analyze 28 U.S. 1367, how do make your head stop hurting? Jesus! I actually get off on all the complexities and ambiguities of this stuff, but right now I need a break. Except for going to the bathroom, eating, doing aerobics and showering, I’ve done nothing but Civ Pro today. I’ve covered a lot, writing out notes to myself, flowcharting balancing tests, and making pages on the Rules. And I have all morning tomorrow, which gives me two or three extra hours to study. I slept very well, and I didn’t get up till after 7 AM. Whether I get my student loan or not, at least I got a fee waiver in the mail; I don’t have to pay summer tuition until late July, and that’s a relief, as I have no money now. My back continues to hurt, as it has for the last couple of weeks. I don’t know what I can do to get it right again. *
10 PM. I just finished studying Civ Pro, which I’ve been doing again since 7 PM, except for a half-hour break to watch The Wonder Years. Our review session lasted an hour, and from some of the questions, I think my classmates have studied too much. I don’t need to do much else; anything I do tomorrow morning will be gravy. Mashburn wants us to use the cases we’ve read, and my notes and outlines are probably my best resource. I’ve got all the balancing tests down, confused and jumbled as they are. At school early, I spoke with Gina and Kim, both of whom are more relaxed than most people. Lorraine was trying to use Lexis to find out possible cases Mashburn could give on the exam, but she had very little idea of how to go about it. I’ve used Lexis nearly every day and was able to give her some tips. I’m pretty good at doing searches for information, as I should be after playing around so much. The Lexis rep was there and showed both of us some shortcuts. Our passwords will be on once they get a list of summer registration. I only skimmed through today’s Times, but if I can’t sleep tonight, I’ll read it. I don’t have much to say that’s not about non-mutual defensive collateral estoppel right now.
Saturday, May 7, 1994
7 PM. I took the subway to Chelsea last evening to meet Ronna at the multiplex on 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue. As I have during my entire visit here, I took the opportunity to observe New Yorkers. In these two weeks I’m storing up memories and impressions that will get me through the next year away from the city I still feel is home. There’s far more implanted in my brain than I could ever write about in the diary. It’s been an extraordinarily chilly May, and last evening was windy, too. When Ronna arrived, she paid for our tickets to the 8:15 PM show of Naked in New York, and we walked down to Tenth Avenue to the Empire Diner, where we sat at the counter as a pianist played and we had tofu fajitas (Ronna) and a lentil burger (me). She was upset after talking to Joel, and I don’t think she’s seeing him tonight as she’d planned to. Joel pursued her at first, but when she responded and fell for him harder than she has for any other guy (Neil, Steve, Ralph, etc.), Joel backed off. Now Ronna finds her familiar position reversed: she’s more interested in deepening the relationship than the guy is. The film was great: a first-time effort by a quirky director named Daniel Algrant who’ll undoubtedly go on to make better movies, but the characters in this one were likable in a Woody Allen-ish film for twentysomethings.
Since Ronna doesn’t like the subway at night, when we got out at 10 PM, we walked to Tenth Avenue to take the bus home. As we passed all the bars and restaurants on Amsterdam, I noticed the crowds were so much younger than we are now that we’re people in their forties who don’t go out that much these days. I slept very well, having several dreams about graduation a week from today. In the dreams, I kept missing the time for graduation or forgetting to pick up my regalia. Finally managing to get Elihu on the phone, I chatted with him for half an hour, swapping cat stories (his Alex is dumber than Nicky, who died, but more affectionate). Elihu turned down a job offer from Bear, Stearns that would have required him to commute by car to distant New Jersey. I told him to say hi to his father when he sees his parents for Mother’s Day and said I’ll let him know wherever it is that I end up. At 11 AM, I walked out of the apartment with Ronna. She went to her synagogue and I got on the IRT for Brooklyn. When I got out at Grand Army Plaza, the air smelled of spring flowers; I’d forgotten how pretty Brooklyn’s tulips can be. After stopping at the main library (“Here Are Enshrined the Longings of Great Hearts”), I walked over to the recently reopened Prospect
Park Wildlife Conservation Center, a wonderful scaled-down remodeling of the old zoo. Gone are the cages and the big cats and monkeys and elephants. Instead, the place is an educational center for kids, with classrooms and exhibits about “Animals in Our Lives” and a Discovery Trail along which kids can pretend they’re in turtle shells or burrows like the prairie dogs (they pop up to the surface in domed plastic bubbles) or being hatched in a newlyopened egg. There are only domestic animals and a few others: wallabies, various birds, a baboon – and the sea lions still have their place of honor as you descend from the staircase entrance on Flatbush Avenue. For much of my time in Brooklyn, I was the only white person on the bus or subway car. But I heard the lilt of West Indian accents and the familiar sounds of Haitian Creole that I miss in Gainesville. And there were many interracial couples and families at the zoo, where the strictly white people spoke mostly Russian. From Lincoln Road to way past Church Avenue, throngs of shoppers made Flatbush Avenue seem more vibrant a shopping district than I remember it from the 50s or 60s, although the stores are downscale and the shoppers nearly all black. Hungry, I got off the bus at the McDonald’s by Fillmore Avenue for a McLean Deluxe and then I walked to my old block, passing Hasidim. Joel
Deutsch gave me my generic Triavil 2/10, which costs one-third of what the now-unavailable patented drug used to cost me; it was good to see him still at the pharmacy. The Wagners weren’t home when I rang their bell, so I left Lou and Evie a note on the back of one of the articles about my Senate campaign. On the porch next door were a child of about 6, a lady about 60, and Grygori. When I told him I’d lived here, he said, “You’re Richard?” and he told me to give his family’s regards to my parents. I walked to the Rockaway bus (which now transfers at Avenue U and Flatbush from the Flatbush bus, so it was free – I guess the transit authority needs to compete with the van operators) and just managed to catch one. Within fifteen minutes, I was on Beach 116th Street. After getting salad bar at the Koreans’, I called Aunt Tillie – but she sounded very bad and said she wasn’t up to visitors. Despite my desire to see her, I settled for just speaking with her on the phone for ten minutes. Her eye has never recovered from her surgery six months ago, and her health is very bad. After she had an EKG, her new doctor asked her how many heart attacks she’d suffered, so she figures she must have cardiac damage. She forces herself to go to Key Food once every couple of weeks to get food that she doesn’t
have the desire to eat. Obviously, Tillie is dying; I don’t expect to see her again. She must be about 88 or 89. Tillie said Minnie asked her about going into a home, but Tillie doesn’t want to, and hopefully, she said, she’ll die before she has to. Even though I didn’t see her, I wasn’t at all sorry I’d made the trip to Rockaway. I ate my salad on the boardwalk so I could see the beach and the ocean although it was freezing. Then I had some nonfat yogurt (peanut butter) at a new Colombo place on Beach 116th before taking the bus back to Brooklyn and the train back to Manhattan. At least I got to see a lot of Brooklyn and Rockaway today. I’m happy not to be going out tonight, as I’m tired from my travels.
Saturday, May 8, 1993
5 PM. It’s been beautiful weather here in New York. Around this time yesterday I went out to the McDonald’s around the corner and got a McLean Deluxe and water (I miss my Crystal Light), then went to Riverside Park and read the Times. The apple and cherry blossoms are in bloom, and the scene was peaceful and pleasant: lots of runners, bicyclists, strollers, kids in carriages and even people practicing fencing.
I came home at 7 PM and nobody was here, so I turned on the TV and was amazed at all the channels Ronna gets: about seventy, including some channels I’d never seen before, like Court TV. I’m used to my three or four broadcast channels in Gainesville. After Ronna came home, we talked for hours. She looks the same to me: her hair has a reddish tint and she’s got new glasses, but I still the girl I fell in love with over twenty years ago. She said I looked the same, maybe thinner (not true). We talked about where we are in our lives. She’s been seeing a guy named Neil, who’s 43, a caterer and dyslexic: the matchmaker fixed them up. He’s extraordinarily romantic, inclined to gestures like sending over roses, but Ronna has her usual doubts. Steve showed up at her door last week. His father died and he was laid off at his law firm, so he’s very vulnerable – and he’s still as crazy about her as he ever was. Barry in Winter Park “cleaned out her teeth” when she went back to his place, but what he said to her was: “You need somebody like me, only in New York City.” Ronna doesn’t want to raise kids in Manhattan, but she doesn’t want to live in Winter Park; besides, Barry is seeing somebody else. Last year, when Jordan got married, Ronna said she “went crazy.” Even though she and Jordan
had broken up so many years before, he was a constant in her life, and Ronna wondered if she shouldn’t have accepted one of his marriage proposals back in the 80s. Ronna does love her job. Although she has the usual frustrations, it seems like she feels appreciated and is doing interesting work at Hadassah. I talked about law school and Jay and living in Gainesville. Ronna’s many friends threw her a mammoth 40th birthday party at David’s – he conspired with her sister, Ellen and others to make it a surprise – and she still had out the dozens of cards and presents. Ronna has always had a talent for friendship. We finally went to bed at midnight, and I was comfortable on the floor on the futon, but I couldn’t sleep because I got my post-flight vertigo and didn’t drop off until 3 AM or so. I was up when Ronna’s clock radio went off at 8 AM, but I didn’t get up until after she’d gone out for the day. I exercised, had breakfast (I had brought my own packets of cereal), showered and dressed, and then I caught the IRT to Penn Station. While waiting for the train to Jamaica, I phoned Mom, who said everything is okay; Dad is fine in Los Angeles. For the last year, I’ve seen New York City streetscapes in my dreams so I made sure to look out the LIRR train windows.
My train got into Jamaica and then I changed for the Far Rockaway line, arriving in Woodmere at noon. At Key Food I got two humongous salad bars, one veggies, the other fruit, and walked to the health-related facility. Now they make you sign in downstairs and on the floor where you visit. Grandma Ethel was having lunch when I got to the new room she shares with Christine on the second floor, but they told her I was here, and she came back in about fifteen minutes, after I’d begun eating my lunch. She cried as we hugged. Grandma looked older, but her nose is totally bandage, and her hair looked long. She has thick hair, lots of it – unlike Ronna, who showed me where she’s losing her hair – and later Grandma told me she hasn’t been able to wash her hair since the latest skin cancer problems and she hasn’t had it cut lately, either. When the attendant came to change her bandage later, I saw where they’d cut, and it was pretty ghastly – but the stitches on the other side of her nose have healed okay, although it looks as if she’s missing big chunks of her nose, which she is. At least it’s only basal cell carcinoma. Christine came in, and I said hi. Her room had always been decorated beautifully by her daughter, with lots of dolls and cards and postcards, and now Grandma’s side of the room is almost as warm, not sterile like her old room.
Grandma displayed some of the cards she’d gotten, and she had all my postcards and greeting cards. She said Marty is trying to start a soda business, but at least Arlyne is doing well as usual (I knew from Westlaw that she’s with an organization helping the disabled with access to technology). Grandma raved about Jeff’s girlfriend, “who’s got very rich parents,” and said she met the guy Wendy lives with. I saw photos of the Sarretts: my uncle is nearly white-haired; Jeff, who used to be thin, has gotten the family chunkiness; Wendy looks the same, and her boyfriend is a big bearded guy. Grandma said Tillie is too weak to call her, so she calls Tillie, trying in vain to get her to come to the home to live. I told Grandma that both Mom and Dad are now on Social Security and that Marc and Clarice have lots of trouble with Jason (“He couldn’t sit still when I saw him,” she said). After Christine left, Grandma told me about all the things Christine does that bug her – but they’re things like turning out the lights when they leave the room, so Grandma tries to overlook them. Grandma said she’s having memory problems, and I could see this, but certainly she can hold an intelligent conversation and is grounded in reality at all times. We talked and watched TV
and just hung out till 3:30 PM, when I had to catch the train back to Penn Station.
Sunday, May 9, 1993
10:30 PM. Last evening, after I rested from my trip to Woodmere, I walked down to 85th Street and went past the old block; the lights in Teresa’s old apartment were on. Ronna didn’t come home till about 8:30 PM, just after I got in from my walk. We talked until quite late and played together most of the morning and afternoon. It’s been great to be with Ronna, finally as friends and not as ex-lovers (although she did say I appeared to have the same body I had when I was 20). Ronna got a Dear John letter from Barry in Winter Park. He’s been seeing another woman he met in January and said told Ronna this woman is the right person for him now. Ronna was partly relieved, but it also bothered her, and she needed to talk about it. We went out at noon and first stopped to see her friend Jane (who reminds me of Gary in that she uses Ronna as her diary and can’t seem to take a hint when Ronna wants to get off the phone). Ronna sponsored Jane in the AIDS walk and gave her a check for it.
We chatted in the lobby until finally we were able to leave. Then we walked down Broadway – even Ronna hadn’t seen the newest stores – and went to Eeyore’s, the children’s bookstore, where she picked up books for Susan and Evan’s children, as she’s invited to a birthday party there. I suggested a Lyle the Crocodile book and stuffed animal, and Ronna got a cookbook for kids. Walking down to 72nd Street, we had lunch at Empire Szechuan, where Ronna paid for my 450-calorie delicious tofu and veggies in peanut sauce. Again, it was great being with her. I walked her up to 79th Street, where she had an appointment with her hair colorist and needed to go to the crafts fair, and I got the subway there. I met Alice in front of Macy’s. She was late, and I was annoyed until I finally saw her; she looks thin and healthy although she’s getting over a cold. At a nearby coffee shop, we talked for ninety minutes. Alice is in therapy to get over her phobia about moving to a new apartment; right now she plans to move on August 1. Alice was, as I suspected, surprised at the news of my parents’ bankruptcy. She told me how Peter’s son, an untalented would-be musician and community college dropout, decided to camp out at the Berklee
School in Boston, where he’d been rejected, in an attempt to get admitted. Strangely, this ploy worked and Kevin did succeed in getting admitted. Peter agreed to pay the $5000 semester tuition (a hardship for him), but once in classes, Kevin discovered the other students were all smarter than he and so he dropped out. I think that Alice is hard on Kevin, expecting a 21-year-old to know what he wants to do with his life the way she did. There are ways in which success from humbler backgrounds like Alice’s makes people very hard. Unlike me, Alice doesn’t seem to have tolerance for indecision or weakness. It’s interesting to compare Alice and Ronna, both of whom went into therapy to deal with a fear: Alice’s about moving, Ronna’s about flying to Israel. Neither would have much problem with the other’s phobia, but both are about change and lack of control, which are big issues in my own life. In everyone’s? Alice and I sat till 5:30 PM, then said goodbye, and I went back uptown. Josh arrived at 6 PM, and we spent the evening chatting in the kitchen and then going out with Ronna to Patzo for pasta and then to This Boy’s Life at the 84th Street theater. For me, tonight was a wonderful evening, reminiscent of many other good times I had when I lived at Teresa’s. Josh now seems
eminently sane, and he was interested in Ronna’s Jewish activities and will send her a résumé to give to personnel in case of an opening at Hadassah’s MIS department. Josh told us his M.A. program at John Jay was excellent – especially good was a class in intelligence and surveillance with a former FBI agent – and he’ll be finished next week. The food at Patzo was good, and we all liked the movie, based on Tobias Wolff’s memoir about his bizarre stepfather. I was glad Josh and Ronna got on so well, and after we took Josh to the subway, Ronna and I talked for a couple of hours before she got to sleep, which is what I should be doing now.
Sunday, May 10, 1992
8 PM. Last evening I began reading the first Law and Psychiatry assignment for summer school. I know, I know: I don’t need to be doing schoolwork. But the material is interesting, and it’s not about law yet but rather about mental illness, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and Szasz’s theories. Up at 6:30 AM, I tried to sleep some more but I couldn’t, so I had breakfast and began reading the Sunday Times. My back still aches, but not as badly as it did yesterday, and I exercised a little. In the morning I watched the Sunday news shows and wrote long-overdue letters to Helmut
and Tom in Germany, and I also sent a postcard to Crad. At 2 PM, trying to avoid overeating, I went out, intending to go shopping, but I found myself driving south on 441. It wasn’t long before the scene changed to a rural one, and I sailed down the highway to “Historic Micanopy,” ten miles south. It’s a neat little town with old buildings and antique shops. Supposedly it’s the secondoldest city in the U.S., founded in the early 1600s after St. Augustine. When I saw a sign saying Cross Creek, I drove nine miles to the east through eye-popping scenery: languid, lush vegetation along a twolane blacktop, with me the only car on the road. Cross Creek is, of course, where Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived and wrote Cross Creek and The Yearling. As I got out in the parking lot, I’m certain I saw Larry getting into a car with people I take to be his family, especially since the car had Vermont plates. Either he didn’t notice me or else he didn’t want to see me. Anyway, I didn’t want to intrude on a family’s Mother’s Day. I walked around the Rawlings farm but didn’t wait for the next tour of the house, an older Cracker house from the 1910s or 20s. Cross Creek itself I could see from the road; people were fishing there, and it seemed very peaceful.
I didn’t want to spend the $3.25 admission to the Paynes Prairie Nature Preserve, so I settled for looking at the scrublands from the highway. This area is so different from any other I’ve been to. Dwight and Angelina and Kim have told me how they love this area’s natural beauty; I’d like to get to know the place better. It was a warmer, sunny day, and it was a nice, cheap treat to go for a ride in the country. Well, I’m definitely recuperating from law school’s effect on me. When I returned to town, I bought some groceries and came home to sit on the patio and read the Times Book Review. The parking lot here is still half-empty although summer school begins tomorrow at the main campus. I vegged out on some TV during and after dinner. So – here I am, with a week of nothing in front of me. I don’t feel like reading now, but I obviously can’t fall asleep and I don’t feel like calling anybody. What to do? I could sit and think. Or skylark. There’s always TV and radio. Or eating. It’s a good thing I force myself to write down everything I eat or I would have ballooned back to my weight of three years ago. In the evenings, sometimes I find that I eat out of boredom.
I was reading Tom’s essays on Walser. Walser could juxtapose these entirely random sentences and yet the whole piece would make sense. And Walser’s point of view and consciousness seemed to shift with every new phrase. Tom says Walser was clearly not schizophrenic, but in a sense – perhaps in a good sense – he was mad. By the way, I think I discovered Josh’s diagnosis in the DSM-IIIR: delusional disorder. Apparently most people with the problem – and it gave “people following someone” as the very first example – talk normally about everything except for their delusion. I’d love to know if Josh still believes there’s some kind of conspiracy against him, but of course he won’t tell me because he knows I’d think that he was mentally ill. Was it four years ago that we seemed to spend the whole summer trying to figure out what was going on until finally I realized Josh was psychotic. And delusional disorder is listed as a psychosis.
Wednesday, May 11, 1994
10 AM. My usual pre-trip anxiety is stalking my body, making me want to fall asleep although I felt perfectly well last night. Yesterday I walked
over to the Hayden Planetarium to see the start of the annular eclipse of the sun, which was partially viable in this area. In an annular eclipse, the moon is too close to block out the sun completely, so even in areas where it’s “total,” a ring remains. Lots of people had the lenses or cardboard glasses (resembling old 3-D glasses) to watch the eclipse safely, but the planetarium had sold out of them by the time I got there. Nevertheless, I was able to line up with others to look into a telescope set up in front of the planetarium to see the start of the moon taking a black bite out of the orange sun. TV classes from NY1 and WNYW/Channel 5 were there taping or feeding live to studios, so I probably got on television. A celebratory atmosphere prevailed, even among the high school kids taken there who were more bemused than interested in astronomy. I walked up Central Park West after noon to go to West 89th Street. The old Franklin School building isn’t the Anglo-American School any longer, but it’s part of Dwight, a well-known old private school. The doors, now painted black instead of red, were opened, and I walked into the lobby: the setup of the building seemed as I remembered it from 1965-66, but it all felt dreamlike.
Taking the local train at 86th Street, I remembered how I used to rush out of school at 2:45 PM for the subway for my long trip home on three trains and a bus. I was only 14 years old then and so screwed up that I wish I could go back in time to comfort myself and tell that kid that everything was going to turn out all right. At 59th Street, I got the A downtown to Chambers, and I met Josh at the corner of West Broadway. While I was waiting, three groups of people stopped to ask directions that I couldn’t supply; that’s when I can tell people, “I don’t know, I’m from out of town.” Josh and I went to a pleasant café for salads. He was upset because it looks as if the guy is trying to back out of selling him the apartment although the guy tells him Julie can still be his tenant if he holds onto it. Josh has heard the guy isn’t trustworthy, and he’s afraid of the effect of the news upon Julie, whose emotional state seems scarily fragile. She grew up in the Philly suburbs and felt unloved; her older gay sister is estranged from their parents, who don’t give Julie any support. “Of course I’ve gotten only one side of the story,” Josh said, “although I wouldn’t tell Julie that.” Josh told me that his father feels his brother can do no wrong and wants to send him money to buy a new house – the old house is in a changing North Miami Beach neighborhood – while he says that Josh is “cold.”
I told him it’s always like that: the dying parent idealizes the child who’s far away (the way Grandma Ethel did Mom) while disparaging the one who cares for him or her. “But in the end, your father really has more respect for you and more confidence in you,” I said. We walked to the subway, where we said goodbye and said we’d E-mail regularly. I did some shopping and errands on my way home. Ronna returned from work after 6 PM, and when David said he was too tired to join us for dinner, we went by ourselves to Empire Szechuan Gourmet on Broadway and 100th Street. Ronna hadn’t been there since they’d renovated. Over our meal, Ronna and I talked about habit and routine. She said I lived “the most transient life’ of anyone she knows. That scares me a little, because I always feel my life has so much continuity. She let me pay for most of dinner and then at The Wiz, we bought blank videotapes for her to tape programs; I showed her how when we got home. Home: this apartment has been my home in New York City this trip, and Ronna’s been wonderful to me. Without her, this trip wouldn’t have been possible because nobody else really has room for me. I fell asleep early last night while Ronna returned phone calls, and this morning we
hugged when she left for work. I plan to eat lunch at 11 AM and leave just before noon; hopefully, it won’t take too long to get a cab. My flight leaves LaGuardia at 1:30 PM for the two-hour trip to Atlanta, but my layover there is 90 minutes. I expect to be home before 8 PM, but it will be a long day. * 9 PM in Gainesville. I miss New York City so much that I only just noticed that I misread a letter from Nassau Community College asking me to come for an interview in two weeks. It was when I looked at it again that I saw it was for an adjunct, not a full-time, position. Well, obviously I’m not going to go now. The bulk of my mail was either junk, bills or rejection letters from a dozen community colleges. No deus ex machina to save my life, so I’ll have to save my own life. Phone messages were from Laura, who picked up her graduation gown before she left Gainesville; Karin, who wanted to ask a question about Baldwin’s Political and Civil Rights exam; and Prof. Dowd’s secretary, who said to call her regarding my lost paper and then called again to say they’d found it. My only E-mail was from Josh when he thought I’d already gone home. I do have to read the material from the University of South Florida’s
School for Library Science, though; I’ve got a good feeling about it. I left the apartment at noon, and after I gave the doorman Ronna’s keys in an envelope, he hailed me a cab and I got my last glimpse of Manhattan from the Triborough Bridge. At LaGuardia an hour early, I had some yogurt. Basically my trip was uneventful and tedious. It was nearly seven hours from door to door. On the two-hour flight to Atlanta, they didn’t serve a real meal, nor was there a video or headphones to occupy me, so I listened to my worn tape of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. The wait at Atlanta was nearly two hours between landing and second takeoff, but the flight to Gainesville was brief we started landing right after the takeoff) and less bumpy than the first flight. I didn’t wear my lenses all day because they hurt even back in Manhattan this morning. Going down the stairway from the plane, I could feel the Florida heat and humidity. The cabdriver who took me home, a black guy from Poughkeepsie, said, “Everyone should go to New York City for a week or two to recharge their batteries,” and he’s right. My mind is a swirl of people, places, events; I had the most terrific time I could have hoped for, and even if I am now broke, I will never
regret all the money I spent on this trip. It had to be the highlight of my year. I miss Ronna and Josh and Korean salad bars and the buses and subways and the doorman and Ronna’s apartment. I do know that I was on vacation, and that’s always different from living and working in a place. New York is too expensive for me to live in, and I’m sure its charms would dissipate somewhat in the face of rush hour commutes and struggles to live affordably. So I consider myself lucky to have experienced the last few weeks. I don’t know whether I’ll sleep tonight or be too dizzy from traveling. It took a long time to put all my stuff away and take care of my mail. I’ve still got to check Lexis and Westlaw, but they will have to wait for now. Next stop: graduation from the University of Florida College of Law.
Tuesday, May 12, 1992
4 PM. Last evening I watched a movie on TV – Albert Brooks’ Lost in America – as I lay on the “couch” (the twin bed) in the living room. That was fun. I’d been concerned I’d feel lonely and bored, but I find I like not having to be productive and I’ve managed to discover things to keep myself busy.
I just returned from a two-hour visit to the main campus. Like yesterday, today is summery and about 88°, but I don’t feel hot (although the humidity has given me a little headache). Now that it’s summer session, the main UF campus seems even more laid-back than usual. And I don’t mind looking at all the guys without shirts studying outside. I’ve become a dirty old man, I know, but that’s better than being dead. I read the Alligator on a bench and browsed in the library, leafing through recent issues of American Demographics, my subscription to which I stopped being able to afford years ago. At the registrar’s office, I filled out a transcript request for Barbara Sloan at the Santa Fe Community College English Department; I hope they don’t wait to send out my transcript till my lower spring grades come and shoot down my GPA. Up at about 7 AM today, I read the paper and listened to the radio and exercised and ate a leisurely breakfast before going down to the Job Service to pretend I was looking for a job. At the Amoco station, I filled my gas tank and used the squeegee to try to get that white lovebug gunk off my windshield. I watched All My Children (a juicy murder mystery is coming to a conclusion) and ate Vidalia onions, sugar snap peas, corn and broccoli as well as blueberries and grapefruit.
Next Tuesday I’ll be back in law school classes, so I’d better make the most of my leisure days. I’m actually hoping to have more free time this summer, and I think I will. Part of it is having a third day off, and the new, shorter 50-minute “hours” really mean I’ll be in class about 11½ hours rather than the 15 in the fall and the 13 in the spring. And of course I won’t have to deal with extra work of App Ad or Legal Writing. I’d planned to try to write an op-ed article about my bankruptcy during this week off, but I haven’t been motivated. Nor have I gotten around yet to cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. There’s world enough and time, and even if there’s not, do I really care? I think I’ll be real sinful now and lie down. * 8:30 PM. I’ve continued to goof off, although I did scrub the tub while listening to the news. Mostly I’ve been rotting my mind with television. Last night I had a dream about China and another one in which I was back in the West 85th Street apartment, which had a new, elegant elevator. I don’t know what that is apropos of. Being on campus this afternoon made me remember my first semester at Brooklyn College in the summer of 1969. I was 18 years old and
just reentering the world after spending most of the year in my room. And what an exciting time it was to be entering the world in the summer of Woodstock. I remember the Friday I bought my first diary; I’d spent the afternoon with street players from the Free Theater when I found the red bound 1969 diary on sale in the racks outside Barchas Book Store. I promptly wrote entries for the previous seven days in August, and I’ve been keeping a diary ever since. I didn’t have any friends at school that summer, but the next summer, ’70, I was hanging out with mark Savage at the Spigot office , and the summer after that I was seeing Shelli (I sent her a card today, wishing her the best for her wedding) and hanging out with her, Avis, Stacy, Elspeth, Slade, Laura and others in LaGuardia. The next year, ’72, I remember hanging out with Mikey and Mike and going to the Miami Democratic Convention between summer sessions. In the second ’72 session, I took Classics with Ronna, months before we started going out. Those four summers at Brooklyn College were good times; now it’s twenty years later. Ten years ago I taught at Broward Community College for the first summer session and I had those great times with Sean before I went off to New York City and he went off to be an undergrad right here in Gainesville.
Friday, May 13, 1994
1:30 PM. It’s about 90° and just walking to school and back has totally soaked my shirt, but I feel good. According to the letter sheet I saw in the Student Services office, I got all A’s this last semester. I’m tempted to go back there and check one more time to see that I wasn’t hallucinating, but as I handed back the sheet with the grades handwritten next to each class, I said to the secretary, “It’s easy to remember this,” and she said, “Yep.” Well, if it is true, then I couldn’t have done better. In fact, Nagan’s B+ in International Law was the single lowest grade of my last year in law school. I’ll obviously keep my “high honors” degree and I probably moved up a couple of notches from #10 in class ranking. I know, of course, in the larger scheme of things, graduating UF’s College of Law with a 3.57 GPA doesn’t mean a heck of a lot, but I am proud of myself. I’ve proved I could succeed in a new environment. At school I saw Shara and Mira and Marc W, and I just ran into Pete B at Publix, and we all congratulated each other. Pete said he’s not doing to wear a suit jacket under his gown, and I
guess I won’t, either. It’ll be a very hot afternoon. Right now I’m downloading to my hard disk all the files that mention me in Westlaw’s Papers database. Earlier, I did the same with stories on Lexis/Nexis because I expect to be cut off any day now. I’ve cleaned the bathroom and kitchen at least tolerably well, although I expect Mom will freak out. She and Dad will be here in a couple of hours, and it’ll be odd to have them as guests. I spoke to Marc last night and he told me he’d like to visit next week. He said he thought he could find me a car if I gave him the money, though I’m not sure I’d give him $2000 directly. Maybe we can look for a car up here. Apparently he’s going through with plans for computer repair training, and I told him that even if his student loan was discharged in bankruptcy, to pay off one month on the loan so he can avoid default and be eligible for a new loan. Last night I slept well, and at 7 AM I did three loads of laundry and went shopping. I don’t remember it being this hot this time last year, when the late mornings were still pleasant. It’s brutal out today, and of course it’s going to be this way for months.
My stomach is a little acidic, but I’m really glad about my grades. My last semester at law school was my best. Hurrah!
Friday, May 14, 1992
Noon in New York City. My flight leaves at 3:25 PM, so I’ll try to get a cab in a couple of hours. Yesterday was the first chilly, rainy day I had here, and I didn’t leave the house till 2PM, tanking the IRT to Atlantic Avenue. The LIRR station above ground has been razed, and I noticed a new Chase building hovering over the Dime when I looked down Flatbush Avenue toward downtown Brooklyn and the Manhattan Bridge. I took the B41 Flatbush Avenue bus all the way to Avenue N and East 56th Street, standing most of the way as I took in Park Slope, the Grand Army Plaza circle (“Welcome Back to Brooklyn,” said the banner on the Main Library), Prospect Park and the Botanic Gardens (the zoo – now the “wildlife conservatory” – is still closed), the vibrant African-American/West Indian shopping district from Empire Boulevard to beyond Church Avenue (Macy’s Flatbush store finally closed), and then the more familiar territory between the Junction and my old house. At Deutsch Pharmacy, Mr. Deutsch gave me my Triavil 2/10; that saves me writing him. He has
two assistants: a Korean man and a red-haired guy with a bushy ponytail. I walked up East 56th Street and stared at my old house, which keeps getting renovated. They removed the little lawn in front and made a wider driveway access to the basement. With the white railings, the house looks so modern, it’s hard to believe we moved in there in 1958. At Kings Plaza I used the Macy’s bathroom – Alexander’s is boarded up – and windowshopped before getting the B41 Limited stops bus (obviously it’s in competition with the illegal private vans) to Nostrand. Luckily I had taken my Brooklyn College alumni ID or else I wouldn’t have been able to get on campus, as guards now check ID at every gate. Students wear photo ID badges around their necks or attached to their clothing, and that saddened me, but there’d recently been a shooting on campus, so I guess that kind of security is necessary. The campus is cleaner and more orderly, but I miss the energetic chaos of my undergraduate days. LaGuardia lobby is pristine and without furniture, an empty corridor between an art gallery and faculty lounge. In Boylan I picked up some issues of Kingsman to show former managing editor Ronna just how bad campus journalism has become since her day. In the second floor corridor, I looked at the English faculty schedules – so many are still
there – and I heard, coming from a nearby room, the flat voice of Jon Baumbach reading aloud a student story. I walked by, and the door was open; except for the seminar tables, it could have been our MFA fiction workshop. Baumbach looked up and stared at me for a second, and I looked away, not sure if his slight hesitation in reading aloud was because he recognized me. At the library I looked myself up in the keyword index on the CUNY catalog; they have all my books, and even Mondo Barbie. Leaving the BC campus, I walked to Bedford Avenue and checked out Midwood High School 25 years after I graduated but could see only into the front lobby and boys’ gym. David and I met at 6 PM and we had dinner at Sugar Bowl, no longer just a dive but a lousy diner that has taken over the whole block on Hillel Place. He seemed to know a lot of the Theater Department who came in. David and I had a pleasant diner, and he told me about seeing Bergman’s Peer Gynt at BAM the night before. We got our comp tickets at the Whitman box office for the thesis production, which was in 023W, in the basement, where’ve seen lots of plays, starting in 1969. Strindberg’s Easter is uncharacteristically affirmative, but it was a good production and
Justin stole the show, coming on in the third act as the not-so-villainous Lindkvist. Justin really looked like a portly old man. I didn’t have much time to talk to him at the cast party afterward, but it’s obvious Justin’s had a great experience in his own MFA program at Brooklyn College. I got home at 11:30 PM and talked with Ronna before going to bed. This morning I hugged her hard. Thanks to Ronna (and Leah’s sufferance), I had an extraordinary visit to New York City.
Sunday, May 15, 1994
11 AM. My parents left about ninety minutes ago. It was a strange weekend. They arrived in the Cougar on Friday at about 4 PM, and we talked as I helped them unpack. Mom presented me with a heavy leather briefcase, but when she asked if I’d prefer that she return it, I had to tell her that though I appreciated the gift, I really had no use for it because it was both too heavy and too shallow to store many books and papers in. I don’t think I offended them then, though I’m not too certain about the rest of the weekend. It’s not that I’ve become an ingrate or a snob; I love my parents but I’m unaccustomed to dealing with them.
Their behavior seems odd to me, as if they’ve grown into cranky old people overnight, and I’m afraid I needed a lot of patience with them. Still, there never was any kind of a blowup. Mom didn’t say a word about my housekeeping habits although I’m sure my apartment must have tested her patience, and when they left this morning, I hugged and kissed them both. My parents remind me a lot of my grandparents in the way they talk to one another and to me: their non sequiturs, little explosions over the silliest things (these explosions dissipate quickly and harmlessly) and their lurking racism and sexism (mostly manifested in Dad’s stupid jokes). I think they were worried that I’d be embarrassed by them at graduation, but of course I could never be. It was odd to deal with both my parents’ visit and my own graduation at the same time, especially given my uncertainty about my future. I know I must be a disappointment to my parents: one of eleven out of 199 graduates to get High Honors, I refuse to use my law degree to get some kind of stability. They can’t understand that. Maybe I can’t, either: Am I sure of myself or just making sure I will never be conventionally successful? Well. We went to Sonny’s BBQ for salad bar on Friday evening, and when we came back, Dad turned
on the TV and we saw that Clinton had finally named a Supreme Court justice: Judge Breyer, the safest possible choice, who’s smart but bloodless and who will probably be okay. I didn’t sleep much on the couch on Friday night. Saturday morning, after breakfast and exercise, and after my parents had dressed, I put on a suit (luckily I was able to give my jacket to Dad before the ceremony), and Dad dropped me off at the Performing Arts Center, where I was one of the first to arrive, along with some of the black students, who wore kentecloth strips for solidarity. As my fellow graduates kept arriving, I tried to circulate and say hi and congratulations to most of them. Karin and Lorraine introduced me to their relatives, and I kissed Laura and Brenda and chatted with a whole lot of people. It’s going to be strange not to see them anymore after spending three years together. At least we were able to share this one last bonding experience. They hadn’t had a law school graduation at the Center before, so the logistics were complicated. It was late when we were finally told to go backstage and find our names on index cards on the floor. It was sweltering under the heavy robes and that ridiculous hat. Deans Reed and Patrick (Savage was out because of a horseback riding fall) tried to explain where we were to go and
how we were to sit and stand. I sat between Barry and Angelina, with Karin and Greg next to them (along with a joint degree candidate we didn’t know), so it was just like that first day of orientation, when we sat alphabetically in the auditorium. After we marched in during the processional and found our seats onstage, it soon became clear that we’d be unable to hear the speakers very well. Dean Lewis’ opening remarks were garbled because the sound didn’t carry backwards. And I could understand only fragments of the speech of University of Miami Dean Mary Boyle; luckily, both of these speakers didn’t talk very long. Because Dean Savage was out, the names were announced by Amy Mashburn as we handed her our cards. For the first few people, she neglected to say “with honors” or “with high honors” (there were red H’s and HH’s on the index cards with our names; on the back of them we had to fill out whether we had jobs for the placement office). Like graduation last December, there were several graduates who brought what sounded like scores of relatives and friends who blew whistles and sirens (the noise for Joe Camerlengo and Danny Serba drowned out the names of Laura and Nick, who came after them). I was unaware of everything, including how much applause I got, because I was
concentrating so hard on not letting my cap fall off and going where I was supposed to be going. Mashburn said, “Congratulations” and “Good luck with the election” (lots of people asked me about that, but Friday was the filing deadline and of course I am not running for Senator), and then I went to Nancy Dowd, who placed the hood Joe Little gave her on me and moved the tassel from right to left. We hugged and she said, “It’s been a pleasure.” (Earlier she’d told me she panicked when she thought she lost my paper.) Then I crossed the stage to get my poster-sized diploma from Dean Lewis as a photographer took our picture and I found my way back to my seat by following Barry in front of me. The whole class stood up and applauded Rich Torres’ name; I knew he’d been ill, but Angelina told me Rich has cancer. It was nice to hear my classmates’ names as tried to follow along in the program, which listed our hometowns (I put Fort Lauderdale), previous degrees and schools, our activities (I had none), book awards and scholarships. The whole ceremony took a little over an hour, and then there was punch served outside, where it was brutally hot. Most people took photos of graduates in their gowns, and I think I got into a lot of them as I searched for my parents and friends.
December grads Kathy and Judy came as visitors – both are working for firms in, respectively, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville – as did Dan R, who’s an assistant state’s attorney in Ocala (“low pay but interesting work”). It really makes me sad that I probably won’t see people like Bob, Donna, Karin and Martin anymore. After I turned my regalia back in at a truck outside – that was our last standing-in-line experience as classmates – I went back home with my parents. During graduation, I’d really sweated, so I was glad to change clothes, and I spent an hour looking at everyone’s name and the rest of the material in the commencement program. I’d gotten a notice passed around about a party at Kevin Johnson’s family’s farmhouse outside of town, and if Mom and Dad weren’t here and I’d had a car, I probably would have gone over there. Instead, we just sat around all afternoon, although I did use the car to get stuff at Mother Earth, Wal-Mart and Albertson’s, the kind of stuff I’d last gotten when I had a rental car during the spring break. I really felt like being alone and I guess I wasn’t a good host to Mom and Dad although I enjoyed our ride around town later in the afternoon, before we had our “spud ‘n’ salad bar” dinner at Quincy’s.
Dad went to the dollar movie to see Philadelphia, but I didn’t feel like going and read the Times in the living room while Mom watched the little TV in the bedroom. I did sleep well last night, and by the time I finished breakfast, Mom and Dad were dressed. They went out to get something to eat and returned shortly to say goodbye. I hugged and kissed them with real affection, but now I’m glad to be alone. The cat, who had been angry at me since I returned from New York and who’d refused to enter my apartment, finally came inside yesterday morning, sleeping in the closet till we returned from graduation. I’ve got so many decisions to make and so many options to consider and so much to do, I’m tempted to do nothing except be paralyzed. Welcome to Life After Law School.