A Writer’s Diary Entries From Mid-January, 1994

by Richard Grayson

Monday, January 10, 1994

7 PM. My throat still felt very raw this morning, but sometime during the day it felt better as I began having an itchy nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.

I walked to school at 3 PM, and although it was cool, I had the advantage of sunshine and didn’t get overly tired.

I saw Laura C at the bulletin board and we chatted for a bit; I told her about my car dying. She said she’d just gotten her scholarship check from Dean Patrick, so I went up to his new office, which was Julin’s old office.

After picking up my sixth and last Bailey scholarship check for $1,250, I asked the dean whether admissions were down. Yes, he said, and it’s true all over the country. Last year they saw a slight decline, but now UF is getting about 100 fewer applicants a year, and fewer people are taking the LSAT.

My year was probably the high-water mark for law school applications. Now that the word has filtered down about problems in the job market, it’s eliminating some people from the pool.

Our Computers and The Law seminar met in one of those third-floor seminar rooms. Most of the people in the class are graduating this term or next: Brenda (the only woman), Duane, Steve H, Barry and Min are among the 17 students.

Professor Taylor wanted us to choose topics for our papers that fit in with her schedule, and I chose the topic of electronic bulletin boards and defamation. I’ll be doing my one-hour presentation after spring break.

It should be a good topic because it deals with First Amendment issues and I picked it before others (some of whom know a lot more than I do, including one guy who’s a sysop, a systems operator) got to choose.

To start with, I know that CompuServe and Prodigy have been involved in cases regarding defamation.

Maybe I can also make this my Pathfinder topic for Rosalie’s class.

At 5 PM, we went downstairs to the first floor of the library as one of the librarians showed us how to find computer law-related material on Lexis and Westlaw.

Min, Adam and I worked on a computer together, and then Min, on his way to shop at Kash n’ Karry, gave me a lift home. (I got out when he stopped for the light at SW 34th Street.)

Catching the last half hour of All Things Considered, I heard that the D.C. Circuit has taken on its own to hear Steffan – the case of the gay midshipman – en banc.

Obviously the court’s Reaganite majority want to overturn the ruling of the liberal three-judge panel that declared the old Pentagon gay policy unconstitutional.

Some gay activists don’t want Steffan to appeal when he loses, because they’re afraid the Supreme Court will come out against gay rights in the military setting; they prefer that another kind of equal protection gay rights case gets to the Supreme Court first.

On Friday, arguments were made before the Florida Supreme Court on the anti-gay amendment, but I think it’s highly unlikely the court will throw it off the ballot because it seems to meet all the statutory requirements.

Mondo Elvis got its best review yet in yesterday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Tuesday, January 11, 1994

7 PM. My cold broke out today. My nose is full and running, and I’ve been coughing up disgusting green stuff since I woke up.

“Woke up” is an exaggeration because once again I had an almost sleepless night. Despite all the supposedly sleep-inducing cough syrup and cold capsules I took, I didn’t feel at all tired.

But with only three hours of sleep, I felt crummy today. Still, I managed to walk back and forth to school twice, and although I coughed a lot and used up dozens of tissues in class, I sat through three classes.

There’s a cold going around school. I know because I can hear others coughing and sneezing and blowing their noses.

Last evening I exercised (as I’ll try to do this evening) and read for Intellectual Property. Later, I called Mom, who said Dad’s plane had been delayed in Newark and Marc thought he was coming down with the flu.

At 9 PM, I watched the first third of Tales of the City. The story’s plot is pretty thin, but the characters are wonderful and the TV series brought back the excitement of the anything-goes ’70s In San Francisco.

In class this morning, Rosalie went over the basics of research on primary sources. I haven’t clerked, so I’d totally forgotten all the stuff I learned my first semester. I couldn’t even remember that a digest was an index of cases or what the heck was the difference between USC, USCS, and USCA.

Our first assignment is to read a recent case – I’ve got one dealing with zoning for a religious order – and write a West-style headnote using their key topic system.

Women and The Law met in my favorite classroom, the horseshoe-shaped pit, but half the seats were empty. Except for Greg G and this second-year student Lew, everyone else is female. I didn’t expect that kind of ratio.

We went around and said why we took the class, and many women mentioned losing touch with the feminist classes they’d taken as undergrads while others said they don’t know much about women’s issues.

When we discussed what feminism is, I made a comment about feminism being associated in the public’s mind with lesbians.

Dowd asked me if I thought men and women are affected differently by homophobia, and I said yes. I’ll probably end up coming out during the semester, but it seems like a place where I could do so comfortably. Not that the people who know me haven’t already figured it out.

At home, after lunch, I lay down with a throbbing headache. Although I felt sick, after resting, I managed to get back to school at 3:30 PM.

In the library I xeroxed stuff for my Computer Law class as well as some of Hunt’s old I.P. exams.

Hunt’s class is the only large class I’m in, and even the alpine room where he teaches isn’t filled. It’s also the only class in which I have to take a final.

He does just what everyone says, plodding through the text page by page. Although Hunt is very scholarly and probably the most literary and arts-oriented law professor I’ve encountered, he is pretty dry. Min set next to me as the seating chart went around.

I got more rejections in today’s mail (a nice one from Roger Angell) and another packet from a community college as well as a letter from Scott.

He set along a photo of his daughter, who’s gorgeous. Scott said I should call him and that he will definitely go to the Brooklyn College reunion.

Wednesday, January 12, 1994

7 PM. While I’m still very congested, today is the first day I’ve had this cold when I felt better than I did the day before.

Again, I enjoyed Tales of the City last night and I’m looking forward to the conclusion tonight.

The character Michael reminds me of engaging gay men I knew back in New York in the ’70s and ’80s who seemed to spend most of their time hunting for a lover or someone to have sex with.

In a way, Teresa’s neighbor Lance was like that. It’s so horrible that so many of these good guys ended up dead of AIDS because they were more romantic than anything else.

I remember driving up West Street in Manhattan and seeing all these guys in white athletic shirts, cutoff jeans, tube socks and combat boots on the corner of Christopher Street and outside places like The Anvil.

I fell asleep soon after the program ended at 11 PM, and I got a good eight hours’ rest, so I felt better today. It was warm all day, but showers kept threatening.

Luckily, I was able to get to and from school twice without getting rained on. It’s amazing how differently I see things during my walks on SW 2nd Avenue.

The pathway is narrow, and I have to look back sometimes to see if any cyclists are about to pass me so I can move over and give them room to get by. Today I was almost beaned by a stray golf ball from the nearby course.

The Times was finally in the lockbox today. After I got it, I went to the lounge because I needed a caffeine-free Diet Coke. My throat was very dry, probably because of all the decongestants I was taking.

Laura sat down next to me and we talked. She showed me the forms we have to fill out for graduation, and I went over to the Student Services office to get them.

In Dowd’s class, we got our permanent seats – I’m at the end of the front row, next to Shay – and broke up into small groups to decide what we wanted to discuss. I was the recorder for our group and I got to talk before the others.

But during the discussion, I deliberately didn’t say anything – both because I felt so stuffed up (I used up lots of tissues today) and because I don’t want to be the talkative man in the women’s studies class.

I do think Dowd’s egalitarian, student-centered approach is a bit unwieldly; we not only select the agenda, but instead of Dowd calling on someone, the last person who spoke picks the next speaker.

I came home for lunch but stayed here only a little over an hour.

Professor Erasmus from South Africa said he hoped we could understand his English, and after a while, I did get the hang of his Afrikaans accent. He’s a nice man, and today he went over the differences in common law and civil law systems.

South Africa is a mixed jurisdiction that combines elements of British common law with Roman-Dutch civil law and some indigenous African customary law.

Tomorrow he’ll lecture on South African history, and because he’ll be here for a month, we won’t have to hold class on Fridays, giving me the day off till at least mid-February.

Hunt again plodded along in Intellectual Property; I guess that’s going to be the class where my mind wanders this term.

I got a call from a student in my SFCC class, an Iranian woman whose kids were sick last week. She seemed very concerned about her ESL problem, but I told her there were other foreign students in the class and tried to reassure her.

I wrote a one-page “statement of educational philosophy” to complete my application package for the teaching job in Spokane. I keep hoping that at least something will come out of all the applications for jobs and fellowships and prizes and all the submissions I’ve made.

The last few weeks haven’t been the easiest for me, but I keep hanging in there. I’m glad I’ve been able to function with my cold and without a car.

It’s good for me to learn to adjust to these new situations because my life is going to change drastically this year after being secure in my Gainesville law school cocoon for three years.

Thursday, January 13, 1994

7 PM. My head is starting to clear of the congestion; luckily, I managed to get six hours of sleep.

Today it rained hard from morning till evening. I ended up spending the money for bus rides to school in the morning and afternoon.

Aimee, who lives at Point West, the next development over, was kind enough to drive me home after Dowd’s class and also after Hunt’s class.

Otherwise I would have been in a real pickle. As it was, I had to change my pants at midday because they were so wet.

Thursday is my toughest day, with four classes, and I can see I’m going to have more work than I did last semester. My seminar paper, pathfinder and paper for Dowd are all due on April 21 or 22.

One problem is that being without a car adds so much more “down time” when I’m walking. I’ll have to make up for that somewhere. But I spent six hours this week watching Tales of the City on TV, and I won’t be doing much of that regularly.

Although I was less congested today, I still used up a good number of tissues coughing up phlegm and blowing my nose.

In Legal Research, Rosalie went over secondary sources as part of her overview.

I can’t believe how much I’ve forgotten from first semester. Of course, I’ve never clerked or written law review articles, so I don’t have occasion to use these materials.

We had a good discussion in Dowd’s class, and I made some comments, wondering if the strict scrutiny standard in sex discrimination would eliminate same-sex bathrooms.

At 3 PM, Professor Erasmus lectured on the origins of Roman-Dutch law from the Roman Empire to the seventeenth century, when the Netherlands was the supreme world power and Grotius was writing his treatises on international law.

Just around the same time, the Dutch East India Company established a way station for its fleet is what is now Cape Town.

I hadn’t realized that civil law reached Africa even before its European nineteenth-century codification by Napoleon and the Germans.

In Intellectual Property, Hunt went over state unfair competition cases – interesting stuff.

Lorraine told me she has the worst cold ever, and it sounds very much like mine. She took sick last weekend, and she figures people brought viruses from wherever they’d gone during Christmas.

I didn’t see Karin all week and I miss her, as she made the best seatmate in class all throughout law school.

Anyway, I’m going to begin reading today’s Times. I have so much work to do that I feel like doing nothing.

Friday, January 14, 1994

4 PM. I’m perspiring after walking to the bank and back.

My last fall semester paycheck from Santa Fe arrived, and I didn’t want to deposit it by mail because I need rolls of quarters for my bus fare, laundry and New York Times vending machines. (It wasn’t worth the dollar I’d save to walk to school today for my free copy.)

I’m weaker than I thought. Maybe once my body knew I had had the day off from school, I sort of let myself collapse.

But at least I’m not dizzy the way I was last night. I hope my sinuses will keep draining as I get all that goop out and I don’t end up with a secondary infection. Despite my torpor, I do feel better.

I accomplished most of what I wrote down this morning on a “to do” list.

I went over the four short-short stories I plan to go over in class tomorrow, and I read my students’ papers about either the kind of books they enjoy or a novel or film that they especially liked. The papers cheered me because nobody had severely deficient skills, and the students are a diverse lot.

Darryl, a black man, is a civil rights investigator who wants to go to law school.

JiaXing, the student from Shanghai, wrote pretty well for someone who’s been in the U.S. only a year.

He discussed his favorite film, The King and the Queen – which sounds like the movie I know about two Beijing opera stars (one straight, one gay) called Farewell My Concubine.

He said it “not only was about the love between man and woman but also the love between man and man.” It crosses my mind he might be signaling to me that he’s gay the way Sean did (much more obviously) on his first paper.

Oh well, I’ll see what happens – but it would be wrong to get involved with a student, of course.

Ivana, the Serbian woman, really loves literature and writes with sophistication. The combination of diverse and interesting people may make this one of my best classes ever.

I responded to their diagnostic papers like a human being. Rather than write on their papers, I made my comments (which all started by addressing them by their first names) on a yellow Post-It Note.

Later, I put their names on a computer roster spreadsheet.

Although this has been a tough week, I didn’t miss a single class. Every day I managed to get in half an hour of exercise, if only a very light workout. I got to school and back without a car and I handled being sick.

This morning it was wonderful to wake up at 7 AM and then go back to sleep.

After doing laundry, I listened to messages on that Alternate Matchmaker voicemail service. In the end, I decided not to call anybody.

It surprises me how many guys identify themselves as bisexual rather than gay.

I know, of course, that it’s easier for young guys to think of themselves that way, but I wouldn’t expect that there would be twice as many bi guys as gays in each age group.

Some of them obviously just want sex, and I am disgusted by the guys who say they’re married “but have needs my wife can’t fulfill.”

Infidelity is infidelity, and at the very least it shows disrespect for their spouses. (I’m assuming these wives don’t know and don’t approve of their husband seeing other guys.)

The other thing is that most guys say they’re over six feet tall, and I find it hard enough to deal with guys like Sean or Jody who are 5’10” or so.

Besides, I don’t feel very sexual right now. This week I felt really old. Being sick obviously contributed to that feeling, but what 23-year-old would be interested in me?

No, if I’m going to meet a guy, it’s going to happen because I get to know him naturally and find that in time I’m falling in love.

An Alligator story says marijuana is making a comeback in the ’90s as more students admit to smoking it.

Watching Tales of the City, whose characters were constantly getting high – Mrs. Madrigal places joints on people’s doorsteps as presents – made me nostalgic for the days in the ’70s when I had lots of pleasant times smoking dope with Libby and Wayne, Avis and Scott, Melvin and other friends.

I’ll keep on resting while I can. I like the word convalescing.

Saturday, January 15, 1994

4:30 PM. I just exercised a little because I was too tired to do so this morning. My cold is still slowing me down although I’m less congested each day.

Still, it’s amazing that I can still blow my nose and get out so much dreck! During the night, my stomach was a little queasy because the mucus is dripping down – but I’d rather have it flowing than getting stuck in my head and causing vertigo.

I called a cab for 11:30 AM to take me over to the downtown campus. The cab driver and I agreed it wasn’t as cold as they said it would be.

I told him I grew up in New York, and when he said he was from Jamaica, at first I mistakenly assumed he meant the West Indies rather than Queens.

Going to my mailbox, I greeted the old man in the office. Last week he told me his name was Andrew Mickle, so today I said, “Hello, Mr. Mickle.”

Out of curiosity, I asked him, “Are you related to the judge?”

“His father,” he said.

“Really?” I said, surprised. “You must be very proud of him.”

“Well . . . sometimes,” he said.

Judge Mickle was recently promoted to the District Court of Appeal and he teaches Trial Advocacy at the law school.

My mailbox was filled with stuff, including the printouts of how my grades compared to last term’s other English 102 sections (they were higher, of course) and my classes’ teacher evaluations.

The students gave me nearly all A’s and B’s, higher than the average for the department in every category, so I’m going to photocopy the evaluations and use them in my application packets to community colleges.

I really like teaching this class. The students aren’t all that talkative, but they contribute, and we’ve got such a diversity of points of view and backgrounds that it’s interesting.

Before we started, I had them go around and introduce themselves. Then we went over four short-short stories by women: Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour,” Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl,” Grace Paley’s “Samuel,” and Sandra Cisneros’ “Barbie-Q.”

Of course the last story gave me an excuse to show the class the Mondo Barbie book and tell them about it.

I let them out at 2 PM, and by running, I managed to just catch the 2:05 PM bus and was home an hour earlier than last week.

I got another community college application packet and a call from Bert, who was surprised that I knew about his klezmer band from reading the Plain Dealer on Lexis. (I had written him about it on my Christmas card.)

I also got my W-2 form from SFCC and a 1099 from the bank where I have a secured MasterCard account.

Last evening I mostly watched news shows. Mom called and talked mostly about the Lorena Bobbitt trial she’s been watching on CNN.

Bobbitt is inescapable as the symbol of guys’ worst nightmares: she cut off her abusive husband’s penis while he slept.

I read some of the Women and The Law material but was disappointed by Catherine MacKinnon’s prose style, which is as impenetrable as most deconstructionist literary criticism.

It’s always hard for me to focus on theory, but something I read spurred me to think about class on Wednesday, when Lew interrupted me twice as I was having difficulty making my point.

I wonder if Lew (unconsciously) was trying to show dominance over me the way male animals joust in front of females.

It reminded me of two years ago, how when I told Greg – the only other guy in Women and The Law – that we were going to be paired for our orals in Appellate Advocacy, he crouched into a boxer’s stance and playfully pretended to spar with me.

That’s such a guy thing.

Rose, also in Dowd’s class, who was the only woman in our small group in Appellate Advocacy, is strong and assertive – but I can’t imagine her doing what Greg did if I told her I’d be going up against her. Nor could I imagine Greg feinting punches at Rose.

There are guy things and girl things. Are they learned or is there some biological imperative? Does it matter? Maybe I can use this in one of my short papers for Dowd.

Well, I’ve got a real two-day weekend now because Monday is a holiday.