A Writer’s Diary Entries From Mid-August, 1992

by Richard Grayson

Wednesday, August 12, 1992

4 PM. The last couple of days haven’t quite been a nightmare, but they come close. I just got rid of my parents, at least for the day. As I expected, I started to feel sick today, and I can tell I’ve got the beginnings of my parents’ cold.

But except for the double bed – which will be a mini-nightmare tomorrow morning, no doubt – I’ve got myself moved into the new apartment.

I didn’t sleep a wink all Tuesday night, and I kept feeling incredible rage that aroused me every time I thought I might drop off.

By morning, however, most of my anger had dissipated, and I figured the best bet was to go along with my parents.

After Dad gave me $280 to deposit, I paid the first month’s rent at Camelot and got the keys.

Dad and I made three trips, loading up his station wagon and my car, and I sweated through three T-shirts during the day.

Basically, the moving went well, and Mom came over and started putting things in place and bossing us around. I was cheerful or at least not surly, so everything went fine.

We had lunch and dinner separately yesterday but were together most of the rest of the time.

Mom and Dad have become the stereotypical cranky old Jewish couple who ended up getting a free lunch yesterday because they complained so much at the restaurant.

They left me alone at 9 PM and went back to the old apartment so I could try to get some sleep here, as I had a raging headache. Luckily, I did sleep deeply on the little bed in the living room.

I do like this apartment better than the other one; It’s brighter and more cheerful and has a better layout – plus, I was able to walk over to Publix just now to buy groceries.

I’ve got a meeting at SFCC on Saturday from 8:30 AM till noon, but classes don’t begin this week, so I can get accustomed to my law school schedule first.

Before Mom and Dad leave, I’m going to have to talk with them about money because I have about $40 to get through the next two weeks until my loan and scholarship money comes in.

I got a note from Josh, saying I could borrow from him as long as he’s got a job, and I may have to take advantage of his generosity or get a short-term emergency loan.

Today could have been more relaxed, but my parents insisted on getting a halogen bulb and then found a $23 desk that we had to assemble. Arguing with each other, Mom and Dad still managed to put together something resembling a computer table – although it looks shaky to me.

I’ve gotten mail here already: in addition to Josh’s note, a letter from Lucinda Ebersole, the co-editor of Mondo Barbie.

I sent her back the permission slip. The consideration (a Contracts word) for my story is $100, and St. Martin’s expects a 5,000-copy print run in the winter.

At the old place, I also got Crad’s latest books, including Suburban Chicken Strangling Stories.

I just looked out the window and saw people moving in and out. This place has a lot of really good-looking young people, and some of the guys look like Melrose Place types. It seems friendlier here, probably because of the swimming pool. Everything will work out.

I guess I’m not grateful enough to my parents. Maybe I should buy them a little present because they did work awfully hard, and I haven’t shown enough appreciation to them.

Friday, August 14, 1992

10 AM. Mom and Dad left a little while ago amid hugs and thank yous.

We managed to get everything moved, and I really feel bad about how I disparaged my parents when they first arrived, even if it wasn’t to their faces and only in my own mind.

Like a lot of things, their visit required me to adjust, and that took a couple of days. The truth is, as much as I had looked forward to their leaving, I feel a little sad now. This is something I should remember in the future.

It’s ironic that in all the heavy lifting, it was I, not Dad, who ended up hurting his back. In taking the mattress and box spring over yesterday morning, I somehow twisted the mid-back region that has been my problem from time to time. Well, it will work itself out.

Although I have a cold, I’ve muted it considerably with vitamins and supplements. It took me till 3 AM to get to bed on Wednesday night, but at least I slept some.

In the morning I went over to school to get the assignments and the names of the texts for Family Law and Evidence, and then my parents and I brought the rest of the stuff over from the old apartment.

It was a miracle we got the bed over here; in two trips, we elaborately tied the mattress and box spring to the roof of the station wagon. Drizzle required us to cover it with plastic (lots of garbage bags taped together).

By 1 PM, we’d managed to get the bed in here, and the proof is I’m lying on it now.

Mom and Dad bought my Family Law and Evidence texts at the UF bookstore, and then we had what for us plain people was an elegant lunch at Ruby Tuesday in the Oaks Mall.

Dad had never been into a Dillard’s, which has been one of his customers, so we walked around the store.

I went out by myself in the afternoon and bought a parking decal, checked on my address change, took one final (unsentimental) look at the old apartment and handed in the keys to College Park’s office.

Mom put a lot of stuff away, some of which I’ll have to move to more suitable places. Given time, things find a place for themselves in apartments.

We had a fairly pleasant time having dinner here and watching TV. I slept wonderfully in the little bed, which I placed by the front window.

I’d set up the TV and VCP and even managed to work out to a video for 20 minutes in the late afternoon.

Mom and Dad were up before I was this morning, and before they left, Mom straightened up and left me $50 and a blank check.

My $3,255 Chase loan is being mailed to the school, but it could take two weeks to reach me, so getting through the next couple of weeks will be the real challenge. Somehow I’ll manage.

At 8 AM, I went over to the law school, where the first-year students were starting orientation. Steve F and Doug G are working as small group advisors as a way of paying back those who did it for us last year.

By now, our class are old pros at law school, and even last spring’s entering class must feel comfortable at this stage, having survived so far (although they still have Appellate Advocacy to get through).

Yesterday I saw Lori at the bookstore, and she’s in my Evidence and Family Law classes. Lori complained that Dowd is giving a take-home final worth only 30% of the grade, but I love not being graded based on a single test.

In Evidence, Seigel gives us an eight-hour take-home terror, but Baldwin’s exams aren’t daunting, so I think finals should be a breeze compared to last year.

Monday, August 17, 1992

4 PM. I’ve just come in from another heavy downpour. This has been an incredibly long string of rainy days: not just the usual afternoon thunderstorms, but continuously gloomy weather.

Classes at law school begin tomorrow. They allowed me to drop Slobogin’s class because a third-year student needed it to graduate in December, but I’ll have to drop Comparative Law and pick up another two credits at drop/add tomorrow.

Hopefully, I can get into Moffett’s seminar, but if not, I’ll end up taking Julin for Natural Resources at 8 AM on Thursday and Friday.

Although I’m not really interested in oil and gas leases, it fits into my schedule, even if it means I have an 8 AM class every day.

Baldwin told me there’s no assignment for tomorrow, and I read Dowd’s reading on reserve (it included an Andre Dubus story, “Winter Father”), so I’ve done all the reading I can for now.

I also put together a first-day handout for English 101, modifying the form the department gave us on Saturday as a suggestion. I need to create a syllabus, and that entails looking at the essays in The McGraw-Hill Reader.

Even though I went to sleep after midnight, I got up at 5 AM; I need to get accustomed to rising early again.

At the law school at 8:30 AM, I chatted with Larry as he got me Dowd’s material at the reserve desk. I saw a lot of people today, including classmates who attended over the summer and people I haven’t seen in over three months, like David A, Bill C, and Darin.

Things are definitely going to be different this year, as our class identity has disappeared. The closest to the first year I’ll experience is being in Evidence with other students who entered last fall.

Students who did not attend over the summer will still have our old sections together for Con Law 2 and Property 2, but I’m not taking Corporations, and it will be harder to find friends in my other classes.

Cheryl is graduating in December, and she’s taking only ten credits this term, saying she’s looking forward to relaxing a bit and concentrating on her job search.

When I asked to borrow today’s Wall Street Journal at the reserve desk an hour ago, the librarian asked if I was still a student or if I’d graduated.

“No, I’ve got a long way to go,” I said.

The student behind me said, “Second year?” and when I nodded, he told me, “It’ll be a lot easier this year.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how I feel about that. All last year, my entire identity was wrapped up in being a law student.

I do like telling people I’ll be teaching at Santa Fe because it impresses them.

It’s nice that Marty Peters is still on staff, helping students adjust to law school. I really feel for the entering class, who may not appear to be more bewildered than anyone else even if they feel – as we did – totally lost.

Tuesday, August 18, 1992

7 PM. At school at 7:30 AM, I didn’t want to miss Baldwin’s first class in Political and Civil Rights, so I didn’t get a number for drop/add at 8 AM – nor at 9 AM.

Instead, I went at the break Seigel gave us between our back-to-back Evidence hours, and by then I got a number so high that I didn’t get to drop/add until 3 PM. By then, every class was closed except Julin’s Natural Resources.

Emira and I, on the waiting list, showed up to Nunn’s Police Brutality seminar at 4 PM, but there wasn’t room for us.

I really have no interest in oil and gas cases and would have much preferred to keep Comparative Law.

If my SFCC class gets canceled, I’ll know I did a foolish thing – as in my old adjunct days in New York when I stupidly turned down teaching at Brooklyn College because I had already started teaching at Kingsborough, and then my class there got canceled.

However, my schedule has advantages: I’m out of class by 11 AM every day (10 AM on Monday), and if I have to get up early five mornings a week, at least I know I can get parking.

I don’t have to go back to school after I teach at SFCC, and I don’t have any really overburdened days, with only two or three classes to attend each day.

Best of all, I’ll have every afternoon free; even on the days I teach, I should be home by 2:30 PM at the latest.

Baldwin was his usual sarcastic self at 8 AM. I sat next to Carla, and Dean Cannon, whom I recognized from the paper because he was UF student body president last year, sat on the other side of me.

Baldwin’s going to Poland next Wednesday and won’t be back for two weeks, so we’ll have to make up those classes. The book won’t be in for a while, and we’ve got to get the cases wherever we can find them.

I went over to the other alpine room for Evidence, and Karin and Shara saved me a seat right in front of Seigel, between Shara and Judy.

Seigel told us to divide up into groups of three that he’ll call on; Karin, Shara and I are group #9.

Evidence is the law of the courtroom. It looks difficult but interesting, and there’s less of an emphasis on the case method because there are fewer cases, so we’ll have more problems to role-play and deal with.

Seigel said he may cut his feared eight-hour take-home exam to five hours and give us tests after each unit to make up part of our grade.

Today he lectured on why rules of evidence exist, and we began our study of relevance.

Seigel is a 35-ish Jewish guy from the Northeast who looks like a lot of the people I know in New York.

It was good to see all my classmates from last year although it’s really hard to talk with everyone. But I genuinely like my classmates and feel comfortable seeing them.

Martin showed off a photo of him and Clinton, whose campaign he worked on in Miami.

Martin got only a B from Collier and told me that Lori and David G were the other A’s besides me in Con Law 2.

But along with Lori and Dan M, Martin got one of the three A’s in Property 2 from Julin.

I look forward to seeing how this term evolves and how differently I view myself.

Wednesday, August 19, 1992

7 PM. Although I turned off the GOP convention at 9 PM last night, I was too keyed up to fall asleep before 3 AM.

Still, at least I didn’t have a totally sleepless night, and the three hours of sleep I got left me no worse for wear today.

I got to school at 7:30 AM and chatted with Dan R, who’s taking Bankruptcy, figuring that’s where all the action in business seems to be these days.

In Political and Civil Rights, Baldwin went over San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez with his usual flair.

The people in the class I know are Carla and Martin, Donna P (who led our Con Law C-10 tutorial in the spring), Doug K, Marsha and a couple of others, including some I know only by face.

In Evidence, Seigel called on Group #1 – Greg, Mark R and Kenny H – to discuss problems relating to relevance. Surprisingly, Seigel used their first names.

As classes changed, I stayed in my front row center seat next to Judy and Kathy when Dowd and Liz McCulloch came in.

I suspect Family Law will be a fascinating class period. As Dowd noted, it’s timely because of “family values” and the ugly Woody Allen/Mia Farrow custody fight.

(Allen’s in love with her 20-year-old daughter; Farrow’s accusing him of molesting their 7-year-old daughter.)

Dowd will take family leave in October, when her child’s adoption is finalized. Both she and McCulloch said up front they were feminists.

For the class period we broke up into groups to discuss the definition of family and then talked about it with the whole class.

Skip, a man who looks at least 55 or 60, sits next to me, and I noticed that Mrs. Baldwin and some of the cooler-looking law students are in the class. (Not in the class: the button-down business types).

Shara had told me I could take I-75 to SFCC, so I tried it, and the exit at NW 39th Avenue was only about three miles from the Newberry Road entrance to the highway. It’s a faster ride than taking the streets.

Barbara Sloan and Lynn, her secretary, were out at lunch, but I left my first-day handout to be xeroxed with A.J., the unit aide, who said he’d get it done.

At home, I exercised, ate lunch, and somewhat glumly sat down to begin Julin’s usual gigantic first-day reading assignment.

Although I really dreaded oil and gas cases, they weren’t so bad; Property 2 is fresh in my mind, and the cases relate to what we did there – plus, they present interesting issues.

After reading the paper and having dinner, I feel relaxed now.

Thursday, August 20, 1992

7 PM. Tonight is Bush’s acceptance speech, and I don’t know if I’ll stay up for it, but I feel certain that the Republican strategy will win the election for them again.

Last night the convention had some obnoxious speeches by people like Pat Robertson and Marilyn Quayle: more cultural and religious warfare designed to bamboozle the yahoos. It will work, but it makes me feel that I’m an enemy of the state.

I didn’t stay up to hear Barbara Bush’s speech, which apparently was more low-key and gentler.

In Family Law, Dowd said Mrs. Quayle’s speech on the family was all about form, while Mrs. Bush’s was about function (support and love).

But I have to say I was touched by the speech of Mary Fisher, an HIV-positive former White House aide.

Some delegates cried as she spoke about compassion for people with AIDS and understanding for gays, but the camera caught the good Reverends Falwell and Robertson shaking their heads in brittle disagreement.

Some of the young people at the Houston convention looked to me like the Hitler youth in Triumph of the Will, but I suppose I’m paranoid.

Dad called to give me some information about the computer, and I managed to get it to work last evening once I found a little key that I’d overlooked before.

I need to get some books on the Windows operating system and figure out how to get rid of the Menu Works program that makes using the computer frustrating. (It must have been easier before Dad erased the Windows setup.)

Last night I had the nourishing sleep and deep rest I really needed. Up at 5:30 AM, I walked over to Publix when it opened at 7 AM to get some milk and oatmeal with the cash I got from the ATM.

Julin’s Natural Resources class has only about forty students, and it’s nice to be in at least one small class this term.

Angelina, Larry, Todd, Erica, Kathy and others from our section are in the class, as are Dwight (who I sat next to) and Rudy.

Dwight’s a geologist and Rudy’s a petroleum engineer, and they both have vast experience in the field.

Julin said we really should have had the course before taking the course (that seems true of lots of law school classes), and I got a little confused during the end of his lecture about a point involving the distinction between mineral rights and royalty rights. Hopefully, I’ll get it before too long.

Lee and Laura C told me that Julin said to the Property 2 class that he’d let bygones be bygones; they thought that was an odd remark, but our section had a lot of friction with him in Property 1.

I told Laura I’d be willing to share expenses with her for a drive to Broward because she’s looking for someone to go down with occasionally.

Kathy told me she booked Legal Counseling this summer; I’m glad because she deserves the recognition.

My own class standing has probably gone down, but I don’t care, as it matters less now.

I missed the second mandatory orientation from Career Services, but of course I didn’t intend to interview on campus this year. Still, I need to go to the Placement office and talk to someone about career plans.

We had great discussions in Family Law about the definition of family, and I think I’ll get a lot out of the course.

McCulloch said she already knows the only winners of the Mia Farrow/Woody Allen custody fight: the lawyers, who have acted unethically.

That’s especially true of Farrow’s attorney, the unspeakable Alan Dershowitz, who bloviates on talk shows.

My scholarship check for $1,250 came in, and I immediately deposited it in the bank.

Then I paid all my bills – utilities, phone, credit cards – and sent checks for the New York Times for the fall and for Triavil 2/10 to Deutsch Pharmacy in Brooklyn. (I’ve been doing okay so far with just half a tablet each night.)

This afternoon I did aerobics, made up a syllabus (probably fictional) for English 101, and chatted with Alice on the phone.

Her boss at Woman’s World threatens to fire her weekly, but yesterday her agent called to say she loved the book proposal about Alice’s deaf parents and aunt and uncle. Her famous cousin Mel approves of the book, too.

And Alice and a friend think they have another book deal, for a book about women and food. Alice is certain she’ll have at least one book contract in a month or two.

I didn’t get any mail today, but getting the mail is fun here because on my way to the mailbox I always get to see a couple of fantastic bodies of college students at the pool.

Tomorrow I’ve got to rush from Family Law to the Santa Fe English Department meeting, but after that, it’s the weekend. Although I’ve got lots of reading to do, I never have minded heavy reading.

By the end of next week, I’ll be adjusted to my new schedule at law school and at the community college.