A Writer’s Diary Entries From Late April, 1993
by Richard Grayson
Wednesday, April 21, 1993
4:30 PM. Last evening, I began to feel better. On Westlaw I discovered another Mondo Barbie cite – from Sunday’s Orlando Sentinel. The book editor ran Sandy Donnan’s review of Barbie at the end of her children’s book reviews. She even mentioned my name and the fact that I’m a UF law student.
Perked up by this, I went over to the main campus to xerox the article and the reprinted review that ran in last Tuesday’s Charlotte Observer. (Yesterday the Observer had a letter from an outraged reader saying this unacceptable book will be sure to find its way into preteens’ hands. Rick and Lucinda should only be so lucky.)
Back home, I had dinner and caught the news – I don’t care about David Koresh burning up – and I put on a tape so I could exercise lightly. I know: I’m compulsive. But I slept soundly for eight hours and felt much better this morning.
I’ve used about a third of the number of tissues I did yesterday, and my cough isn’t nearly as bad. I’m still congested, but I didn’t avoid any of my usual activities today.
In Crim Pro, we went over pretrial publicity, and then I came home and exercised, read for tomorrow morning’s classes, and made a reservation for my flight to New York.
At the airport after lunch, I got my tickets by turning in the old one and paying $218 (which I had taken out of the bank). I leave two weeks from tomorrow at 8 AM and come back the following Friday evening.
Back at school at 3:30 PM, I read the paper until it was time to hand in our Legal Drafting final exams and fill out teacher evaluations. It amazes me that some people like Jim began the paper last night and didn’t do any revisions or annotations.
Karin started when I did, and she stayed up all last night working on it. Donna got to bed when she finished at 5 AM.
Well, two classes are over, but I’ve got four finals in the next twelve days, and I don’t have much energy for studying. At least I’ve been doing the reading all along. Lorraine told me she never read for Estates and Trusts – and she was absent a lot.
Just going to class and reading all the assignments has to help me.
For the twenty months that I’ve lived in the cocoon of law school, weird trivialities have assumed immense proportions. Maybe getting back to New York, even for just a week, may clear up my brain a little.
Although I feel better, I sound more nasal today than I did before. Sniffle, sniffle.
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°.
It’s been three weeks since I had that last conversation with Jody, 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 Jody 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 Jody wants. I’ll have to think about it.
What I spent most of today thinking about was D.T.’s final. Studying the first half of the course – the easier half – on intestacy and wills, I enjoyed going over my notes, the textbook, 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 half-brothers: 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. 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 Pro 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 101 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).
Jason got suspended from school for forging a teacher’s signature on a pass. When he didn’t come home that night, Clarissa was frantic even though he had left her a note saying he had to “go away and chill out” for a while.
Clarissa 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). Clarissa should make it clear that if he doesn’t go to school, he’s got to get a job.
Of course, I can’t see Jason holding 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 there.
As it is, though, I barely have enough money to cover my trip.
Saturday, April 24, 1993
8 PM. I don’t think I can do any more studying today. I’ve been working on the second half of the term in Estates and Trusts, and a lot of the material is difficult.
Gifts are pretty straightforward – but trusts, when combined with the interplay of the Rule Against Perpetuities and powers of appointment, can drive a person crazy.
(Indeed, D.T. said that one expert in the area, Professor Leach, ended up in a padded cell.)
I slowly read over my notes, the text, Donna’s outline, and the Florida Statutes.
Aside from shopping for groceries, exercising, reading the news, and personal grooming, most of my time today was spent in the world of remaindermen, gifts causa mortis, residuary clauses, and general powers presently exercisable.
Feeling alone and isolated by 3:30 PM, I drove to school and studied the Wills and Trusts nutshell outside. It was great just to be able to exchange hellos with people passing by: Sharon, Steve F, Doug K, and a few other classmates.
Finally, back at home, I used some of the CALI software, which confused me because I’ve learned Florida Statutes and not the Uniform Probate Code.
Ronna called an hour ago to say it would be fine for me to come. Leah needs the bathroom from 7 AM to 8:30 AM or so, but that’s fine with me.
Weekdays, Leah and Ronna both work, so I can be alone in the apartment during the day. I hope I’m not too much trouble for them.
After all that studying, I think I’ll numb my brain with whatever crap is on the three TV channels I can get.
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.
In debriefing, I’ve discovered stuff I neglected to put in or mistakes I made and 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 with powers of appointment, simply blew my mind.
In the question, D.T. 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. Still, I’m glad I learned that Karin and others also didn’t make use of all the space he gave for the answers.
I’d be surprised by an A in Estates and Trusts, delighted with a B+, satisfied with a B, and disappointed with anything lower.
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 Body Electric 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 now realize I missed a very elementary Rule Against Perpetuities problem on the exam, something I knew easily. After that, I 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 fairly 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 watched 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 & Noble opened a new superstore on the block of Broadway between 82nd and 83rd that had been becoming vacant, store by store, for years.
Wednesday, April 28, 1993
3 PM. Today has been leisurely. At school for an hour in late morning, I studied outside and noticed that a lot of law students have really good calf muscles.
Barbara Goldstein told me that she took a different job than the one she previously told me about.
She’s going to Morgantown, North Carolina, about an hour east of Asheville, and be their legal services consumer fraud attorney. Barbara’s got one more final and will move there soon after graduation.
She’ll go on their payroll as of July but won’t start work till August, after she takes the North Carolina bar exam.
The bar examiners there insist on a personal interview because she’s got a bankruptcy and a history of mental health counseling.
“Who doesn’t?” I said.
But Barbara told me the law firm that does the interviewing all have Roman numerals after their WASPy names and probably think anyone who’s been in therapy is psychotic.
I can’t imagine many people having that sort of attitude with the bar in New York or California or maybe even in Florida.
I don’t think much about taking the bar exam, though I know it’s the first thing on my classmates’ minds, as it is on Mom’s, who often talks about it.
To placate her, I’ve said I’ll probably apply for the New York bar next summer, but I haven’t given it much thought.
I came to UF with the intention of being in the joint degree program with journalism, so I never tried to fool anyone into the belief that I wanted to be a practitioner.
That’s why Professional Responsibility is even more irrelevant to me than it is for my classmates. I have no burning desire to become a member of the bar. Perhaps I’m not “moral” enough. If so, so be it.
Of course, I have to begin thinking seriously about where I go after law school a year from now.
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 “debriefing 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 don’t have 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. Ana 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.
Not that I’ve ever complained about grades. As a teacher, I know how random they can be.
Next week at this time I’ll be in New York. Probably I’ll go out to see Grandma Ethel next Friday. Although it would be smart to call first, I’d like to surprise her. I won’t have much time in New York, 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 saw 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), Josh, and Justin and Barry, 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’m taking one exercise tape, though I’ll try not to get too rigid about my routines.
I should 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.