A Writer’s Diary Entries From Mid-April, 1994
Tuesday, April 12, 1994
7:30 PM. I worked on my seminar paper a little last evening and this morning, and I still have about seven or eight articles to go over and see what I can add.
The paper is close to forty pages now, but a lot of the information is repetitive or unnecessary or verbose. Still, it’s taking shape. I’ll work on it more tonight and in the morning.
I quickly scanned this week’s reading for Women and the Law before I left for school today, and when I was home for lunch, I did the reading for Intellectual Property just about to the end of the text. I need to work more on my pathfinder.
Before our Westlaw lab, Rosalie told me how her husband, Steve Sanderson, laughed while reading aloud parts of the article from yesterday’s Gainesville Sun to her before she discovered it was me being discussed.
All day, people, including some I don’t know, told me they’d seen the article. It’s interesting to discover who does and who doesn’t read the local paper. As I’d asked, Laura Kauffmann sent me the clip from the Ocala Star-Banner in the self-addressed stamped envelope I’d sent her.
They put the story on page one with a full-color photo of me (not just a head shot) and the jump headline was “Grayson Says Candidacy Is a Wake-Up Call to Democrats,” as if “Grayson” was a recognizable name.
On Westlaw, I discovered that Ron Ishoy had put in two sentences about my candidacy at the end of his column in last Sunday’s Broward section of the Miami Herald. My family must have missed it.
Our Westlaw lab was on scientific evidence using Dialog databases, and Kelly let me handle the keyboard during the demonstration. (When we were in the Encyclopedia of Associations database, I showed her the listing for The Committee for Immediate Nuclear War.)
Rosalie is a good computer teacher. As I know, it’s not easy to use computers in the classroom.
In Dowd’s class, we discussed more about women and wage work, centering on sexual stereotypes. When the subject of the legal profession came up, I cited my paper and said which fields female attorneys are clustered in.
Soon after I got home, the cat wanted to get out – he seems to like the new semi-moist food I bought – and I had lunch and then read.
In the mail I got a rejection from a community college in Oregon; also, some new “creative nonfiction” series of books says they don’t want my diary book manuscripts.
Alice sent a postcard from Key West saying that although she couldn’t imagine living there – of course Alice has a hard time imagining living outside the 10011 ZIP code – she’s enjoying relaxing in Florida after six-day workweeks.
The air was incredibly fragrant as I walked back to school along SW 2nd Avenue; I wish I knew the names of all the flowers now in bloom.
On campus, I chatted with Lorraine, who was doing job searches on the computer.
“I won’t relax till I have a job,” said Lorraine, approaching finding employment with the same desperate attitude that made her feel so miserable all through law school. But who am I to tell her it would be less counterproductive if she just went with the flow?
Hunt’s class, on the ability to copyright functional items that have artistic design qualities, intrigued me, and I was the only one to raise my hand when he asked if anyone thought a design for a hip implant device which went inside people’s bodies could be copyrighted.
People guffawed when I said, “It’s important to be an aesthetic design so when doctors look at it in catalogs, they say, ‘Hey, this looks nice and will go well inside my patients’ bodies.’” I heard someone say, “What a comedian.”
Hunt told the class that that was exactly the judge’s reasoning.
10:30 PM. I went over three more law review articles and added a few pages to my seminar paper, but by now nearly everything I read is duplicative of what I’ve already got on paper.
Josh called a little while ago. His father is still “goofy,” as if he’s been brain-damaged although he recognizes people and is off Thorazine. The urologists don’t want to take him off the catheter, however.
After he’s released, Josh is going to try to take him home, and only if that doesn’t work out will he put his dad in a nursing home. When it comes to his parents, Josh is a saint.
I called Mom earlier and read the Sun/Star-Banner article to her. (I wonder if it appeared in the other New York Times Regional Newspapers in Florida.)
In two weeks I’ll be heading for New York City, where it was close to 70° yesterday.
Wednesday, April 13, 1994
8 PM. I’m printing out the latest draft of my seminar paper. I’ve gone through my law review articles, and I spent time in the library on Lexis adding the page numbers in the current parenthetical cites because my Westlaw text of the articles has no original page numbers.
I’ve still got an enormous amount of work to do on the paper, but at least I know I’ll have something to hand in next Friday. Just putting the foot notes in will be a real pain.
I had only two classes today – Dowd’s and Hunt’s – although our South Africa Law class met for couple of minutes to fill out the teacher evaluation forms Professor Little gave us.
This afternoon I took the bus to school because it started raining at 2 PM, and I got a lift home with Cassandra, who sits behind me and who also lives in Camelot.
While a few people today told me they’d seen the Sun article, basically the comments have let up except for friends (Nick, Dawn) whom I haven’t seen since the story appeared.
I had breakfast before 8 AM and went to work pretty much after that, stopping only to exercise for half an hour before I showered and dressed to make my 11:30 AM class.
Our discussion, I find, tends to get so focused on the problems of corporate lawyers and accountants like the plaintiff in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins.
I pointed out that although these female professionals are still facing discrimination, they’re privileged compared to most working people, male or female, who labor in manufacturing, sales and low-level service jobs.
When I’m around professionals – or would-be professionals – it tends to bring out my working class background. I don’t have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings who graduated from college except for Jonathan’s A.A. from BCC.
When I was working in the library after lunch, Lorraine asked if I’d seen my name on the bulletin board. No, I said, and I went out, afraid that I had to call home for some family emergency.
After seeing that my name was on a list with nine other students, I felt better, and I went to Student Services figuring it was probably good news since the list began with Sharon and included, in order: Bobby F, Tom McA, Marsha, Jack, Lori, David A, Ryan, some guy I don’t know, and me.
I got a letter inviting me as one of the top graduating students to apply for a $500 Gerstein Scholarship given to an outstanding student.
Since the application asked me to fill out all the organizations, extracurricular activities, etc., I’d been in, I decided I wouldn’t bother. The other people are all on law review or in honor societies.
But then I said, what the heck, and with a green felt pen jauntily wrote “None,” “None” and “None,” and in the “comments” section: “I’m undeserving but poor.”
If this was a class ranking of how the top of the class stood at the end of last term, and I was number 10, I’m surprised and pleased. I also like the idea of someone who’s a jokester and not serious about the law being at the top of the class.
Of course I do take my study seriously, but only for reasons related to my own mysterious goals. I’ll probably fall in ranking anyway after this term’s grades come out, but not too far.
Whatever I do – or more likely, don’t do – with my law degree, nobody can take away the experiences I’ve had in law school or the accomplishments I value.
Friday, April 15, 1994
8 PM. Last evening my Lexis clipping service told me that one of the names in my list had appeared in the NEWS file, and I read a cute story Alice sent in to “Metropolitan Diary” in the New York Times about how she came across a woman in a bookstore looking for a book that would help her lose ten pounds.
Even when Alice brought over her own book called The Last Ten Pounds, the woman looked skeptical and decided not to buy it despite Alice’s offer to autograph the copy for her. Funny.
I slept well last night and had some odd dreams toward morning. In one, I visited Shelli and Jerry, who were still married and living across from our old house on East 56th Street in Brooklyn.
In another, my computer monitor wasn’t working, and instead of my word processing text, it was displaying a video picture of a TV news report on a parade near the Museum of Modern Art.
Although I’d been in Florida in the dream, I somehow got to the scene of the report to see Grandma Ethel, who was there with other old people from the nursing home.
It’s going to be very strange being in New York City and not going to Rockaway or Woodmere to visit Grandma Ethel. I don’t know how I feel about trying to go to the cemetery; I’m not sure they’ve had her unveiling yet.
I didn’t go to see Grandpa Herb’s grave until eight years after he died, and I never think about going to the cemetery in Miami where Grandpa Nat and Grandma Sylvia are buried.
I spent most of today revising my seminar paper and dealing with cites to come and all the footnote problems. I made an initial heavy-duty overhaul of the paper’s first 18 pages, so I’m about halfway through.
I think I’ll put the seminar paper aside until Monday. Once I get home from school tomorrow, I need to concentrate on the pathfinder, which is due on Thursday, before the seminar paper.
Even though it was a warm, sunny day, I went out only twice: at 8 AM to Publix and the newspaper racks, and again at 5 PM, to deposit my latest $136.80 paycheck from Santa Fe Community College and to get four rolls of quarters at the bank.
And of course I did go out to get the mail in mid-afternoon (and squint, because I didn’t have on my contacts, at the only person at the pool, a cute guy who was sunbathing).
Susan Schaeffer sent me a long letter, very friendly. She hadn’t been aware I was in law school, much less about to graduate from UF. At the Brooklyn College English Department, they’re still in a state of war, but she, Baumbach – Susan said his latest book is called Seven Wives – and Spielberg are all still there.
Maybe I never had the academic positions they did, but they all fell victim to inertia – and they all (especially Susan) probably could have gotten other jobs elsewhere.
Susan told me how her latest manuscript got completely rewritten; Knopf is her publisher now, and they had trouble with her version of the novel. Susan said she still writes poems but files them away in a box.
Dorothy Friedman, Susan reported, tried to contact me in Fort Lauderdale, but of course I’d moved away long ago. Not aware of how much of the 1980s I’d spent in New York City, Susan said that it seems I’d been in Florida a very long time.
She closed the letter by saying she had fond memories of “The Peacock Room,” the first story I gave her, the one that eventually became “The Princess from the Land of Porcelain,” going from over fifty pages to fewer than ten.
I suspect Susan believes I would have been a talented novelist of realistic, sensitive fiction like her own if only Baumbach and the Fiction Collective hadn’t influenced me for the worse.
She says she’s angry at Bob Plunkett after his bad review of her Greta Garbo book; she realized he also reviewed Mondo Barbie.
I’ve got nine papers to grade for tomorrow’s class, but I plan to put them off until the morning – unless I have insomnia the way I did last Friday night.
At least I know that I’m going to have a decent seminar paper to hand in to Taylor; I wish I felt as confident about my pathfinder, but that’s going to count for only 40% of our grade in Advanced Legal Research. Once I start it, I’ll probably feel better.
C.A. Bradshaw sent me more E-mail; he’s directing Krapp’s Last Tape now and is working on his one-man Thomas Bernhard show. Which reminds me: I haven’t heard from Tom Whalen in Stuttgart all year. I must write him when I return to Gainesville in mid-May.
This was a good week. I got all that publicity in the papers, and I learned that, as of last semester, I ranked number 10 in my graduating class.
Tuesday, April 19, 1994
9:30 PM. Shay just dropped me off after the party at Professor Dowd’s house. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I had a good time.
I’m actually pretty sociable, given half a chance, and it was nice to see people outside of school.
Some people brought their husbands or boyfriends and there was tons of food. (I ended up having to take home about a third of the cookies I’d brought.)
It amazes me how many people tell me they see me walking all the time with my fire-red backpack. I wonder if I’m a comical figure or a character – and the truth is, it doesn’t bother me at all. (Perhaps that’s because I am a comical figure and a character, and I’ve worked hard to get that way.)
Last evening Justin called and we had a nice conversation. Larry’s taken another job, at a new Barnes & Noble on Sixth Avenue in the 20s in the city, in addition to his Acoustiguide work at the museum, so Justin doesn’t see much of him, given his own hectic schedule.
When Brooklyn College wavered on keeping his position, Justin held firm to his insistence that he get two adjunct courses in the fall (because now that mean you get benefits at CUNY), and eventually the department caved in to Justin’s demands for his “package.” But he had to do a lot of politicking, as the usual academic knives were out.
Justin is directing a musical soon, and he’s got other work in the theater. He’s now on CompuServe; I knew sooner or later Justin would join the rest of us mouse potatoes in getting connected.
Last night I finished the footnotes and went to bed at midnight. Up at 5:30 AM, I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I exercised to Body Electric when it came on at 6 AM, and then, after 7 AM, I managed to fall back into a light sleep for an hour.
Our last Advanced Legal Research class was a good one. Rosalie asked me to conduct the teacher evaluation and call her back when we were finished – apparently this is my new job in every class – and then she talked about the point of all the research sources and techniques we’ve learned.
She gave the class good advice in telling them to be nice to librarians, because librarians can go out of their way to help you if you’re friendly. So many lawyers, especially, tend to treat people like librarians and secretaries like garbage.
I know that at every school where I’ve worked, I’ve made it a point to be friendly with secretaries and custodial staff. I’ve always believed it was not only classy but it made sense to go out of your way to be friendly with people who can do you absolutely no good whatsoever – because it’s right and because you never know.
I met with Rosalie in her office after class, asking her a bushel of questions and then just chatting about academia (her husband’s just become Poli Sci chair at UF) and why library schools are closing (she said it’s because they know they can push around “bunheads” easier than people in other fields).
She seemed really concerned about my future and the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do next. But she did admit I had a good attitude. I like Rosalie a lot.
At home, I worked a little on my pathfinder – eventually, as with my seminar paper, I’ve just got to stop. (Rosalie told us ways to know when you should stop researching.)
I didn’t feel that well today, so I thought I would skip Hunt’s class. But in the end, I forced myself to go, and it was a waste.
Our guest, a Ukrainian lawyer, was even more boring than Hunt. I watched people in class try to be polite to a foreign visitor when they were obviously going out of their minds with boredom.
At 6 PM, I decided to call Shay to see if she could give me a lift so I could avoid taking the bus to the party. She knows this place from Carla (who doesn’t drive) and it was on her way.
Jonathan, her husband, was at a rehearsal of a play he wrote that’s being put on tomorrow. I think it’s pretty cool for a psychologist to also be a playwright.
We were one of the first to arrive, but there were already about ten people. I enjoyed chatting with classmates, and Zack and Zoë were running around being adorable.
Nancy Dowd has a nice, homey house with a warm feeling. We talked about law school teaching, and she said she’s only the second person from her law school (Loyola-Chicago) to become a law professor. She actually likes teaching the first-year classes.
Greg, Mindy and Rose gave the results of their study of rape attitudes, and another group presented their board game (at first I assumed it was a work of art of Dowd’s – actually, it was nicer than her real art) about teaching girls self-esteem and how to deal with sexual harassment.
Some of us also said what we got out of the class. For me, Women and the Law was probably one of the best classes I took, and Dowd undoubtedly had a terrific experience teaching the class, learning from us the way good teachers always do.
I talked with several people – mostly second-year students – who knew my name; I feel badly that I didn’t know theirs.
Well, I guess I’ll read today’s Times till I get tired: no work tonight. I don’t have to go to school tomorrow until 11 AM.
Mike Winerip sent me a postcard to say he’s glad to see I’m doing more kicking than getting kicked. He’s got a book coming out this June and told me to tell him what I think of it.
Wednesday, April 20, 1994
8 PM. I feel a great sense of relief. I just printed out my pathfinder and put it together to hand in to Rosalie tomorrow. This morning I handed in my seminar paper to Professor Taylor’s secretary.
I didn’t sleep much again last night, but when I got up in the middle of the night, I decided to go to the paper and revise the last third. After a couple of hours’ sleep, I printed out the final draft this morning.
I can’t even think about studying for my Intellectual Property final now. I just want to get out. I guess finishing the paper put me in a good mood today, for I felt very chipper, especially given the fact that in the past two nights I’ve had about a total of six hours of sleep.
It was warm when I rushed out of the house at 11 AM. Just before that, I had to scramble to take a shower and change quickly because my exercise session lasted later than I planned.
I enjoyed Dowd’s class today because we had a terrific discussion about legal education and in particular what could be done to improve or change the first-year curriculum.
I tossed out the idea of an all-women’s law school, based on my readings about the Portia Law School in Boston and similar schools back in the days when women couldn’t get into other schools.
The comments I received were intelligent and spoke of the frustration many people experience in law school. Women obviously experience our law school differently than men do.
Several people commented that they never talk in their other classes, but Women and the Law gave them a safe place to speak out and feel comfortable, knowing that they’d be listened to.
I think Lew put his finger on the more general problem when he said that in most classes, students don’t listen to one another at all, regardless of gender.
Through my whole law school career, I found that only in Don Peters’ Negotiation class and in Weyrauch’s Legal Counseling was the importance of being a good listener ever brought up.
The discussion today made me think about the first year and how terrified we all were, wondering if the Socratic spin of the wheel would put us in the uncomfortable position of being engaged in one of those no-win, hide-the-ball colloquies.
Nancy Dowd wondered what other ways there are to do it, and I saw her writing down many suggestions that people made.
Home for lunch, I did some work on the pathfinder and then went to get a haircut.
Zena knew today was my next-to-last day of classes in law school (on Saturday I taught my SFCC students the word penultimate, saying they could impress people if they used it) because Marsha had been in the salon earlier.
I’ve let my full beard grow back in, but I’m thinking of going back to a goatee again before I go to New York City.
Back on campus, I worked at the library’s reference section, doing last-minute stuff for the pathfinder as Rosalie sat at the desk nearby.
Hunt finished the text today with a case on gray-market goods (the first time I hadn’t read ahead) and talked about how the GATT treaty will probably change all of the U.S.’s intellectual property statutes.
Tomorrow is a question-and-answer session, with attendance not mandatory. Hunt finished five minutes early and we applauded him.
I worked on the pathfinder both before and after dinner. I haven’t read the Times yet and I may leave it till tomorrow morning. I’m tired but feel I did a good job on my assignments.