A Writer’s Diary Entries From Late June, 1992

by Richard Grayson

Tuesday, June 23, 1992

5 PM. I just got back from school.

The people who are really interested in Con Law – like me, Martin, Bob and Karin – had already read yesterday’s R.A.V. decision although Collier hadn’t gotten around to it yet. He’ll run it off for us, he said, but today we did O’Brien and related cases.

Before class, I did a search for myself on Westlaw and found a number of cites I’ve never seen, like a Times-Picayune notice advertising my reading at NOCCA, and a 1984 story on New York City bookstores that mentioned being able to get I Brake for Delmore Schwartz at B. Dalton in the Village.

Ron Ishoy did put the Broccoli Lovers PAC in his Herald column two weeks ago, and there were a couple of other mentions.

I printed out the list of the documents and will go through them later. Because the Westlaw database features the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald, there was a lot on me.

Martin, Bob and I looked at the photos of the ten first-year students selected for the law review.

The cutoff GPA in our section was 3.44, so even if I’d equaled my GPA for the fall, I wouldn’t have made it. While I’m slightly disappointed, I feel it’s for the best, as I don’t think my talent lies is best suited for law review.

Lori made it, of course, and David A, Ryan (he’s so quiet, I never would have suspected), Duane and Carla. Good for them.

The other section’s picks were Sharon, Marsha, Tom and two people I barely know.

Martin said they were going to post the book awards and class rankings soon, and I could tell he’s anxious about it because he badly wants to book Baldwin’s class.

I’d be thrilled to book Torts, but it would be greedy of me to do it.

Yeah, I’m probably only in the top 20% of our class, but that’s okay. I’ve gotten over the fact that I’m not gonna be a law school superstar.

I can forget about becoming a law professor, and that, too, is probably for the best, as I don’t think I’d be happy in that life.

Now that I know that I’m a good law student but no superstar, the pressure is off, and I can glide through, studying only what interests me – like First Amendment stuff – and getting by on the rest, like Property, which seemed interminable today.

Law and Psychiatry was okay. I blew the quiz, but since I never expected to get a plus grade on it, today I didn’t care and didn’t feel the same upset I felt two weeks ago.

This week is the break between summer sessions A and B for UF undergrads and grad students, so the town is quiet and they’re repaving University Avenue in front of the campus.

Lots of people at the law school are sick. Lorraine was out with that stomach virus that’s going around; Shay has ulcers and is on a strict diet and in pain; Shara has problems related to diabetes.

No word on my prostate specific antigen test, but it really makes something like class ranking seem of little importance.

Exit polls say Labor has probably won the Israeli election, and I certainly hope that’s true.

Although I’ve never been a Zionist, Likud has totally alienated me from Israel over the last fifteen years. I feel more connections with Europeans than I do with Israel.

If the Israeli government ever did make peace with the Palestinians and give them a homeland, however, I’d definitely consider living there for a while.

Wednesday, June 24, 1992

4 PM. Last evening Pete phoned from work to tell me to call Donna about staying at her and Masa’s apartment.

I phoned her at her job, and she said she’d call me when they knew they’d be in the Soho loft.

Usually they are there by this time in the summer, but I gathered the guy who owns the apartment has delayed his yearly visit home to Japan.

I began reading the Property cases and found donation transfers to be interesting.

Julin gave us a wonderful case, In Re Dodge, which reads like a Henry James story about how Elmira College’s president and the head of its board of directors manipulated Geraldine R. Dodge into signing over her art collection as a gift when she was obviously approaching senility and didn’t realize she was being tricked.

I should have read further, but Julin didn’t go past the cases I read, and I had fun hanging out with friends before classes today.

The easy sociability and camaraderie of law school is something I haven’t experienced since those wonderful times in LaGuardia Hall when I was a Brooklyn College undergraduate.

Before Con Law, I sat outside with Bob, Martin and Dan R till they went to Legal Counseling, and before Property I sat on the steps by the Cheerios sculpture with Shay (who’s still feeling badly), Gina, Mark R, Barry, Kevin M and Allison.

Karin had a bad toothache and was heading to her dentist in Orlando after Property.

Collier finally read R.A.V. and decided the abridged version in the Times was enough for us.

Today the Court decided two big cases (Mrs. Cipollone can sue the tobacco companies; religious prayers cannot be offered at public school ceremonies), as I heard when I got into the car at 1 PM and turned on the radio.

Rick Peabody sent a xeroxed letter (with a personal salutation): St. Martin’s Press took Mondo Barbie, which Rick edited with Lucinda Ebersole, and it will be published in March 1993.

St. Martin’s also has first refusal rights on Mondo Elvis, which I assume is a similar book. Rick probably would have asked me to contribute to that if he’d been interested. The Elvis book is three-quarters full, but Rick said we could try and send him stuff. Maybe I can put something together this weekend.

Rick just missed getting a job teaching fiction writing at Arizona State, and he’s willing to relocate now. It would be great if Rick got an academic job, something he deserves.

He’s working on editing short stories for anthologies about abortion and D.C., and he’s got a Gargoyle collection he thinks he can sell if Mondo Barbie makes a big splash next spring.

I’m not counting my fictions before they’re published, but this would be the first time I’d have a story in a book put out by a big New York trade publisher (which is also Alice’s publisher). Maybe I’d even get mentioned in reviews.

Pete was in the Between C&D anthology, and Crad made The Pushcart Prize, but I’ve appeared only in small press books like Statements 2 from the Fiction Collective and Editor’s Choice 2 from The Spirit That Moves Us Press.

I went to the post office and mailed copies of With Hitler in New York and Narcissism and Me to European libraries in Hamburg and Amsterdam and to a fanzine in Naples.

Another review zine, ZYX in Bayside, sent me copies of old issues after I sent them Narcissism. The editor said he’d read about me in Kostelanetz’s The Old Fictions and the New.

So my literary career isn’t totally dead. See, the law review would have interfered with my writing.

Thursday, June 25, 1992

7 PM. I’m in one of my indignant moods. I just called ABC-TV to comment on the final report on World News Tonight.

Peter Jennings had cautioned that some people might be too squeamish to watch a story about a college student who worked part-time as a snake handler, but what annoyed me was when the reporter said, “She looks like a typical co-ed . . .” A female reporter wouldn’t have used that outdated sexist term.

But basically I’m just annoyed about everything after watching, listening to, and reading the news.

Part of it was talking at school with John P, who admires Quayle and his values and said that LBJ was responsible for the problems that caused the L.A. riots.

I know, I know: it’s not worth arguing with a little twerp who’s just repeating the crap his parents fed him – twenty  years ago he’d have been cheering on Agnew – and John definitely was in the minority, as Barry and Mark ridiculed Quayle, and Shay and Carla said Bush has no agenda at all.

I just told John, “Well, if you think the last four years have been great, vote for Bush and Quayle.”

Yeah, if only LBJ had never gotten that nasty Civil Rights Act passed (Bush and Reagan were against it in ’64), things would now be so much better for black people in Los Angeles.

Well, I guess things would be better for people like John and his racist parents.

Why do I waste my energy getting angry? Can I use what I’m learning in law school to do anything constructive about issues that get my blood pressure to rise?

Ronna phoned last night and said she’ll be home on Monday evening, July 20, when I arrive and that I should stay there at least a week; she’ll be going to Lori and Alex’s for the weekend anyway.

She’s been fine, although none of her dates from the New York magazine personals ad worked out. I told her they all must have been visually impaired.

Jordan’s wedding wasn’t as bad as she expected. After giving each other the fish eye for 45 minutes, Susan and Ronna finally talked, with Susan coming up to her.

They chatted and even sat together during the ceremony and visited each other’s tables, but Ronna said that within twenty minutes, she realized that Susan was as self-absorbed as ever.

Ronna did feel weird about Jordan getting married, but I know she’s happy for him.

She had to get off the phone to comfort David, who was about to come to her place from the gay synagogue.

He really liked this guy who sort of dumped him, but Ronna says the guy only just came out and didn’t want a relationship yet.

She assured me I’ll finally meet David this summer.

Mom called, not able to understand why I didn’t hear about my prostate test yet. She said she had no idea Uncle Irving had died.

It turns out that Grandma’s bedroom set had originally belonged to Irv and Minnie when they were first married, so it’s kind of nice that Jonny got it.

When I told my Mom my grades were such that I didn’t make law review and probably wouldn’t be able to become a law professor, she started to say, “But…” and I finished her thought: “But what will I do with my law degree? Mom, I’ll do whatever with it.”

I’m so tired of hearing that question. It’s the people who are most definite about what they want to do with their law degree that worry me.

I guess I live an irresponsible life, letting my interests and instincts guide me. And to the outsider – okay, maybe to my friends and family – my life must appear haphazard, random, unconnected.

Yet to me it all makes sense, it’s all one, and I know what I’m doing now even if I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow.

Today’s classes were interesting, even Julin’s: donative transfers and gifts causa mortis and joint bank accounts are livelier material than equitable servitudes.

I got to school early, at 8 AM, to read Property, and I need to do the same tomorrow.

One reason (besides having no money) I won’t contribute to WUFT/5, our local PBS station: they caved in to the American Family Association and wouldn’t run The Lost Language of Cranes because Leavitt’s screenplay had too much frankness about gay life.

Back to outrage again.

Sunday, June 28, 1992

10 PM. While I finished all my Property reading for the term and I’m coming to the end of the Con Law reading, on equal protection, I can’t get my mind off the scene on the local news tonight.

Ku Klux Klan members showed up at the Gay Pride picnic, calling for capital punishment for all homosexuals. The police kept them away from the picnickers mostly, but the incident makes me wonder if my hesitancy in going wasn’t entirely justifiable.

It was loathsome enough to see the Klan in their white robes on TV, but to see them in person would have made me feel so much worse.

Is there any other “discrete and insular minority” – to use the term from footnote 4 of Carolene Products, which I’ve been reading – that has people calling for them to be executed just because of who they are? It’s like the Holocaust.

When I first came to Gainesville, I was so charmed by all the polite, courteous people I met, but with the undercurrent of hate here, I feel left less safe than I do in “bad” neighborhoods of New York City, and it makes me feel nostalgic for South Florida.

The homophobia in this community has really soured me on Gainesville, and I don’t want to spend any more time here than is necessary.

Perhaps the U.S. is moving towards some kind of fascist state, under Ross Perot or whoever. It’s definitely a good time to apply for a passport and have it handy.

If anything, law school has radicalized me in a way I haven’t been radicalized since 1968 to 1971.

Monday, June 29, 1992

4 PM. I’ve been in the apartment for the past six hours.

Up at 7 AM, I got everything done early: got the Times, groceries at Publix and sundries at Walmart, and I read the Wall Street Journal at the public library.

The Court upheld all of the Pennsylvania restrictions on abortion, but also 5-4, endorsed the framework of Roe v. Wade, with the moderate conservative bloc of O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter again providing the deciding votes.

I haven’t heard much analysis, but it’s no worse than expected, and it appears the Supreme Court would not uphold a total ban on abortion.

Back at home, I exercised to a Body Electric tape and also to Homestretch on WUFT/5 at 11:30 AM.

Since then, I finished my Con Law casebook for tomorrow; I need to begin the 60 pages for Thursday’s class.

Two weeks from today at this time, I’ll be taking the Con Law final, and three weeks from today I’ll be in the air or heading there on my way to New York City.

I read my lease for this apartment, and it appears my parents paid the last month’s rent, so I told Mom not to send a check.

My loan check should be mailed to UF today although that will provide me only $300 once I pay summer tuition.

No word from the doctor yet, but I assume that’s only because it was good news.

Also, no word from Santa Fe Community College, and if I don’t hear from them soon, it’s unlikely I’ll be teaching this fall.

Well, I’ll try to get some other kind of part-time job, maybe work/study at school. Or I could take fifteen credits and then have a really easy schedule for my remaining three semesters.

I need to begin packing stuff away. I’m going to send Mom and Dad a spare key to the apartment so they can come up here before I return on August 11. Dad could pick me up at the airport and then we can move; I need to be out of here at noon on August 14, so I’ll have at least two days to get ready.

Also, I have to arrange to call Camelot Apartments and change my address with the post office and change my utilities and phone service.

I may be crazy, but my hunch is that Clinton will surprise everyone and win in November. I hope he picks Gore or Cuomo as his running mate.

Tuesday, June 30, 1992

9 PM. I just watched a PBS show on airships. Since I was a kid, I’ve been intrigued by their grace and their fragility.

When I was in second grade, we were told to write a story about a trip someplace by a particular mode of transportation. My story was titled “A Trip to Switzerland by Zeppelin.”

Those pictures of the Hindenburg disaster always made me scared they’re going to explode at any time, but I was enchanted by the way airships moved through the air so effortlessly, without the noise and stress of planes, which seemed to fight the air.

However, it looks like there’s not much future for a lighter-than-air craft.

I didn’t sleep much last night, dozing off at 10:30 PM during a Who Is Ross Perot? ABC special and waking up in time to listen (the TV, of course, is in the other room) to Perot take questions from audiences in several cities till 1 AM.

What made me depressed was not Perot himself, but the questions, most of which concerned “values” issues like family, abortion, drugs, etc.

Hardly anyone asked about the economy, which means that once again Americans have been hoodwinked into being distracted from the issues that most affect them.

People are so used to campaigns based on patriotism and all that other shit that they forget their wages are going down, jobs are being lost, we’ve mortgaged our future and are becoming a second-rate economic power. Not a good sign for the fall.

I slept only a few hours, but I got through a long day without too much yawning.

All my classes were interesting today, and I made some contributions in Con Law and Law and Psychiatry.

Ray was on campus to look up material on Islamic law that he couldn’t find in Jacksonville, where his law clerk job is. It was good to see someone who I don’t see every day in summer school.

This afternoon there was the usual crushing humidity and violent thunderstorms.

In Property, I noticed Lorraine, who sits next to me, holding the center of her forehead and getting some Tylenol.

“Sinuses?” I asked, and of course that’s what it was. My own sinuses were killing me. Some people say Gainesville is the most humid city in America.

Reading yesterday’s Casey decision in today’s Times made me think Bush is very lucky in not having to run for reelection as the President whose appointees overturned Roe v. Wade.

Yet under the framework of Casey, abortions will be harder to get. Even now, many rural women don’t really have access to the procedure.

Ever since the fiasco when Governor Martinez tried to get the legislature to pass strict controls, Florida seems to be a fairly safe pro-choice state.

Speaking of fiascos, I don’t know if it’s Gainesville or just me, but I’ve come to realize that not a day goes by when I don’t hear or hear about a homophobic remark or attitude.

I’ve avoided reading the Gainesville Sun or watching the local TV news because of all the homophobic incidents and attitudes expressed.

Yes, there are some stories that are uplifting: Today I found in a discarded copy of the Sun that rocker Tom Petty and his wife went to the Gay Pride picnic to show their support for gay rights.

But of course there were the daily hate letters on the op-ed page.

June will be over in a few hours, and tomorrow is the midpoint of the year, the 183rd day of 1992, with 183 days to go.

Although the first year of law school ended in May, it won’t really feel like I’m through it until summer school ends and I’m away from Gainesville for a few weeks.