A Writer’s Diary Entries From Early August, 1993
by Richard Grayson
Monday, August 2, 1993
4 PM. I just returned from getting a haircut.
I felt I looked so old and wrinkled in the stylist’s mirror, and when she said that I was getting hair on my ears, I told her that was because I’m old.
She said she was 21, and when I told her I was twice her age, she didn’t believe me until I showed her my driver’s license. “I’m old enough to be your father,” I said.
Chip, the owner of the shop, said, “if he was black, he could be your grandfather,” a racist comment – but I felt I had to chuckle anyway.
Mom just phoned to say my travel check from the state for $404 arrived today. Earlier I called her to tell her I needed to use the check she gave me a year ago. I filled in “$300” and deposited it to my account. Mom also got the blank check I sent her, and later in the week, she can make it out for $300 so we can be even.
Tomorrow I should get my $61 unemployment check, and I guess I’ll be safe if I hand in the rent check then because Mom’s check should have cleared.
It’s confusing, but at least I’ll end up with enough money to manage once I get my scholarship funds. It’s been real tight but so far I’ve managed. Maybe my two-week string of nearly no mail is about to end, two. Okay, I’ve been getting one piece of mail the last 10 days, but it’s either been a bill or an ad circular like today’s from Walmart.
Last evening I read the newspaper and listened to the old radio programs on WUFT-FM’s Theater of the Mind.
It was 70° when I went out at 7:30 AM today. But there are no more New York Times issues in the lock box, so I guess I have to spend the 75¢ every day from now on until the fall semester begins.
After doing the laundry by 9 AM, I read, exercised, showered and looked up articles about the Internet on Lexis and Westlaw.
I feel I’m so far behind everyone in navigating the Internet, but it’s only very recently become navigable by anyone but engineers, and so I’m probably not that backward.
What I need to do is get a good book on the Internet once I have some extra cash. There are so many possibilities it opens up, though Josh says he uses it only for E-mail, and I suspect that’s what most friends who use the Internet use it for.
I’ve got to learn about Gopher, Archie, Veronica, WAIS, and all the other helpful software.
It must be 98° out now because my shirt is soaked through just from going out to the hairstylist.
I saw Professor Dowd get into her car in front of Publix, but she was too far away for me to say anything. At least I got to chat with the folks at the Mane Stop.
Tuesday, August 3, 1993
8:30 PM. After my $61 unemployment check came in the mail, I took it to the bank. Then I went to the Millhopper library and read till about 4:30 PM, when I drove to the law school to await the posting of grades.
The only person I saw that I know there besides Dean Savage was Laura V. The crowd was mostly first-year students, many of whom seemed disappointed with their summer grades although the averages, even of hardnoses like Jones and Little, looked higher than in the old days.
Weyrauch gave me an A. I was one of 12 A’s, so I’m not that surprised – very few of his grades were below a B – and with those odds, of course, I’m sure I didn’t get the book award.
I had promised myself that if I got an A in Legal Counseling, I’d go to the regularly-scheduled meeting of Floridians United Against Discrimination.
The alternative newspaper The Iguana gave the Unitarian church as the meeting place. But it also gave an information number, which I soon realized was Javier’s.
He didn’t (and still doesn’t) know who was calling him. He seemed confused about my asking about the church meeting. Apparently, tensions in the group have caused it to split, and Javier’s group meets at this guy’s house right here on SW 2nd Avenue between my house and the law school.
Javier said the number of people attending had dwindled because of the tensions between the factions, and when I passed by the house early this evening, there were only six cars in the driveway.
I decided that as important a cause as it is, my dislike of meetings and groups was borne out by these people’s inability to get their act together. So in the end, I didn’t go.
I did find the Alligator at school this afternoon, and I answered a personal ad from this 28-year-old bisexual guy, sending him the photo of me in a tank top that got Jody to call.
The guy from the phone ad obviously decided I wasn’t for him, and I can’t blame him.
Pete called while I was out and said he’d be in Broward for Thanksgiving and wanted to know if I’d be there. I won’t, of course.
I spoke to Dad to tell him my grade. He had just gotten back from Los Angeles, where he said it was deliciously cool. I do hope to be living elsewhere next summer.
At the law school, I overheard two students telling each other about their own plans to move out of state. Maybe it’s a cop-out that I probably won’t be here, but that’s another reason for me not to get involved in Florida politics.
Wednesday, August 4, 1993
3 PM. I decided to go to the main UF campus this morning to do some errands before it became too hot.
As I was driving past the law school, I heard on the local news that Professor Julin died yesterday. It was a sudden apparent heart attack. Julin was 67, the same age as Dad, and his death is a shock.
He was Dean for ten years and probably the person who more than anyone else made the law school more than just a Florida backwater.
I took three classes with him, and while it took me a while to appreciate his teaching style, in the end I thought he was a brilliant instructor.
There’s going to be a memorial service, probably on Saturday, and I’d like to attend. Julin was a nice guy and told terrific stories about his early days in Chicago.
It’s terrible, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Now I can’t ask him for a letter of recommendation.” I guess I should ask Weyrauch sooner rather than later because he’s so old, having gotten his law degree in Germany back when the Nazis were still in power.
I parked at the campus indoor garage and walked the considerable distance, getting very sweaty and thirsty.
Looking at the textbook postings in the Hub bookstore, I got this sick feeling when I saw the Oil and Gas Law casebooks for the section of Natural Resources Julin was going to teach again this fall.
Up on the fifth floor of the Computer Science and Engineering Building, I filled out a form to get a VAX account so I can access Internet some way other than Delphi, but I forgot to bring a disk so I could get a copy of that Kermit software, and I’ll have to come back.
From there I traipsed over to Criser Hall to hand in a transcript request form. (I wanted to save a 29¢ stamp)
I spend so little time on the main campus that it surprised me to see so many really young students there.
Before I came home, I stopped at Publix and bought groceries. I’ve been inside the rest of the day, doing the usual stuff: TV-watching, newspaper-reading, Lexis/Nexis accessing, exercising.
Last night I spoke to Pete and told him I wouldn’t be at my parents’ over the Thanksgiving holiday, though I’d have considered a trip if I weren’t going to be in Miami for the Book Fair the weekend before then.
Pete says he uses the Internet mostly for E-mail to about a dozen people and for accessing library databases for research. (He gets books via interlibrary loans.)
Pete mentioned that in Zone, he first published a lot of people who are now well-known writers like Bob Shacochis. I bet a number of the little magazines I got published in back in the ‘70s also feature work by the now-renowned.
I told Pete to find the Chronicle of Higher Ed article on culture studies at NYU.
Saturday, August 7, 1993
4:30 PM. I’ve just returned from the memorial service for Dick Julin, which was held at his Catholic church in what to me is way out on SW 24th Avenue and SW 109th Street.
I’d driven by earlier in the week so I knew how to find it. Actually, all I had to do, I learned, was take SW 34th St right down to SW 20th Avenue and make a right, going straight all the way.
I didn’t feel like wearing my suit, which I haven’t worn one since I bought it, so I just put on a short-sleeved dress shirt and a skinny solid black tie, a pair of tan Dockers and my tweedy sport jacket with elbow patches that I inherited from Dad.
I didn’t want to get there early, so I stopped off at the Tower Road branch library, where I discovered some great videos. (I ended up borrowing The 400 Blows and Fellini Satyricon.)
When I did get to the church, I parked on the grass, as the sign directed. Professor Jones was a few cars ahead of me, and Nagan and Bennett right next to me.
After signing the memorial book, I walked in from the back of the sanctuary. Nunn was seated between two other professors in the last row, and I sat alone on the end two rows ahead of him.
Most of the law faculty seemed to be there; Baldwin, in dark glasses, was towards the front, and Seigel and Davis sat in the back on the other side.
I also saw Dean Patrick and others from the law school, though the only other student I recognized was Steve P.
The service was tasteful, with floral bouquets and that portrait of Julin from the library on stage. We rose as the priest walked in with Professor Allen and another guy, who spoke first.
Two of Julin’s children read excerpts from the Bible, and we sang a couple of hymns – “On Wings of Eagles,” I think.
Allen’s eulogy was good. He knew Julin when he was a law student at Northwestern (where Julin courted his wife, who was the Dean’s secretary). Years later, at Michigan, when Allen was Dean, he appointed Julin his associate dean.
Apparently Julin kept it a secret from all but his family that he had a serious heart condition for over twenty years, the kind of thing that could kill him instantly. Not even Professor Van Alstyne, his best friend, was aware of it.
And that was like Julin: he was an optimist, concerned about others’ feelings, a straight shooter.
So many of UF Law’s faculty are egotists, but he wasn’t, even though he was well-known nationally as a Dean and an innovator in legal education.
I’m sorry I didn’t go up to talk with him more. He was the kind of guy who treated students and secretaries and janitors as well as he did professors and judges. I thought he was a great raconteur as well.
When the service ended, I didn’t feel like staying to talk to anyone, so I left right away.
Back home, I got two letters from the law school: one was the newsletter from Career Services (which is holding a Florida Public Interest Job Fair this fall for the first time), and the other was a letter from Professor Moffat (who sat in front of me in church), saying he planned to move our seminar from 4:10-6:10 PM to 7-9 PM on Mondays.
I don’t know how I feel about that, but it does free up more time during the day to teach or to take other classes.
I’ll figure out my schedule eventually, I guess. If it gets screwed up, I can always end up with a grad class because they don’t begin till the following week.
Last night I fell asleep early and slept deeply. In one dream, I was in a huge conference room with circular rows, and Alice was hosting what seemed to be an important public meeting.
She called on others and then said, “Richard Grayson, what do you think of…?” and then her voice trailed off as I realized in panic that I couldn’t hear her question.
Embarrassed, I first tried to bluff an answer and then told Alice that her sound system was faulty. But everyone else said the sound was fine, and it dawned on me that I was going deaf.
Then I woke up and it occurred to me that Alice’s parents were deaf. What does the dream mean?
Tuesday, August 10, 1993
7 PM. This afternoon I went to the Plaza Theater on NW 13th Street and 23rd Boulevard to take advantage of their “50¢ Tuesday” admissions price. I saw Dave, a clever Ivan Reitman film.
When I arrived home, I got good news in the mail: Santa Fe offered me an English 102 section on Wednesday evening, though Barbara appended a note saying if I’d prefer days, I could switch.
No way! An evening class lets me drive to school once a week rather than three times and so saves time and gas. Plus, I’ll probably get more working adults, and English 102 means I can teach poetry, drama and short stories.
I hope the class registers and they keep me as instructor, but I expect Barbara wants to make up for my summer class not making.
Usually Wednesday evenings are the most popular night of the week for classes – and of course it will get all of the people who hate Beverly Hills 90210.
In the law library early this morning, I took out Israel’s Nutshell on Crim Pro, but it’s an old (1980) edition.
Back home, I did my usual newspaper-reading and exercising and I also peeked through the venetian blinds at my eternally shirtless 19-year-old neighbor working on his car.
Anyway, having heard from Santa Fe, I feel relieved, and I’m starting to rev up for the fall.
Maybe some of my classmates will think that this summer of ‘93 went too quickly, but for me it just plodded along.
Still, life has been speeding up the last few years, and maybe in the future I’ll look back on these molasses days fondly.
I went to the post office to send back my signed contract form to Barbara so it will get to SFCC tomorrow, and I bought stuff at Walmart and Publix.
I just hope no emergency develops until I get my $1,250 scholarship check because right now I have only $100 in the bank.
Saturday, August 14, 1993
8 PM. Last evening I logged onto Delphi and had E-mail from Pete (a test message) and the guy who runs the gay bulletin board telling me I needed a profile before he would grant me access.
I spent 40 minutes composing a one-screen list of vital stats, “likes,” etc. – very hard to do.
After my morning workout, I went to the Tower Road library to exchange my two foreign-language film videos for two new ones, and I shopped at Publix and Walmart before getting home in a heavy thunderstorm that interrupted all the undergraduates and their middle-aged parents from dragging stuff out of U-Hauls as they moved in.
I figured out how to log on to UF’s CIRCA system and discovered a cornucopia of Usernet newsgroups: people who chat on different subjects.
There are all kinds of groups, from LISP language fans, haters of Barney the dinosaur and foot fetishists to people interested in Thai politics, the Boston Red Sox or news from Somalia.
Having spent more time than I planned on at the computer, I rushed out to catch the 2 PM show of The Last Action Hero for a dollar at the Royal Park.
This summer box office disaster wasn’t as good as Tom said it was, but the crude Borgesian interplay between fiction and reality and some very witty business made it enjoyable.
However, I could see where it alienated Schwarzenegger’s usual audience: kids were bored and running amok in the theater.
After putting gas in the car and checking the front (amazingly, it was okay), I stopped at the law school, where I saw Gene and his cute little son Max heading for the bulletin board.
Gene just got back from Pensacola and told me he was shocked to get a letter from Weyrauch saying he booked Legal Counseling.
I hope I clearly expressed my delight in his news. While I’d had hopes of booking the class, if it couldn’t be me, Gene is the person who most deserves it.
I doubt I’ll book any other classes in law school; my big moment came in my first semester, and that’s all right. I don’t need law school awards to get a job.
Gene is in Baldwin’s class and Moffat’s seminar, and he told me that from his experience last year, it will be hard to get Nagan’s International Law textbook because it’s from 1981. Like everyone else, Gene expressed shock at Julin’s death.
Back home, I had two messages. Teresa said she’s been busy and she’s working this evening. On Monday she’s closing on the house in Locust Valley, and on Tuesday she’ll start painting there.
On Wednesday Deirdre’s visit begins, and after a few days, Teresa will take Deirdre to her parents’ in Philadelphia, so tomorrow is the best time to get her.
Laura C phoned to say she just got back into town, though by the time I got back to her, she was out and I had to leave a message.