A Writer’s Diary Entries From Late April, 1994

by Richard Grayson

Sunday, April 24, 1994

4 PM. I studied most of last evening and much of today. I’ll begin going through my notes again later and finish tomorrow morning, hopefully.

Yesterday I read nearly all of the black-letter law of the trademark, copyright and patent laws that are found in our supplement.

Today I read more cases and articles in legal newspapers about recent court decisions involving issues in intellectual property that will probably show up on the exam.

I’ve been scribbling out some tests – for example, the eight Polaroid factors to test for “likelihood of confusion” or the four Section 107 factors to test for fair use.

Finally, I looked through material I got in the Computers and the Law seminar, including helpful stuff from Harris Corporation’s chief patent counsel.

For me, studying is fairly relaxing, and while I’d prefer the security of an open-book final, the fact that I have a good memory might prove to be an advantage in a closed-book exam.

I remember Marty Peters telling us in the first-semester workshop on preparing for exams, “Now’s the chance to show off what you know,” and I am actually looking forward to the Intellectual Property final to see how well I can apply what I’ve learned.

Probably I could do okay even if I didn’t study any further. I want to be careful that I don’t get so concerned with showing off what I know that I miss the obvious answers to straightforward questions.

I slept pretty well, although I’ve been battling an off-again, on-again postnasal drip and sore throat since yesterday afternoon. If I don’t get a cold before I leave for New York, I’m absolutely certain I’ll get one while I’m there.

The last few times I’ve gone to New York City, I’ve gotten sick, partly because of change of weather and stress but also because the poorly-circulated air on jets makes me more susceptible to catching the easily-spread viruses of fellow passengers.

I read a lot of today’s Times already, including four pages on Nixon, and I listened to and watched news on radio and TV. I did some light low-impact aerobics but didn’t get out much.

Yesterday I decided to put up a couple of batches of laundry, though I’ll need to do that again on Tuesday, which is sure to be a busy day. Not only will I have to turn in my grades at Santa Fe, which should take a considerable amount of time, but I’ll need to pack and buy whatever it is I need for the trip.

I also have to take care of paying the rent and making sure the house is all set. Plus I have to call Ronna and remind her that I’ll be coming. On Wednesday I’ll have to call a cab very early. My flight leaves Gainesville at 7:50 AM.

I don’t have to rush to change planes in Atlanta, however, as I’ve got an hour, assuming flights are on time. In any case, what’s the hurry? I’ll be free to do as I please for a few weeks.

Part of me longs for the end of law school and the other part dreads ending what has been such a fulfilling experience. These three years in Gainesville have changed me. I never thought I’d find the study of the law as interesting as I did – nor did I expect I’d be one of the better students at UF College of Law.

It’s now hard to believe that I have to take only one three-hour exam and I’ll have jumped all the hurdles necessary to get a law degree.

It’s a good thing I picked law school instead of graduate school because at least after three years I’ve got something to show for it – and I mean something other people will recognize, not the knowledge and inner growth I know I could have gotten anywhere.

Three years ago at this time in late April, I was really scared about coming here. But I’d just gotten back from my magical week in California and I was finishing up the semester at Broward Community College and preparing to spend the summer in Rockaway.

I see me now waiting for the train at the elevated station on Beach 105th Street, listening to my tape of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, which would finish before I got to Manhattan and my dinner date with Josh or Ronna or Alice.

That summer of 1991 was special, from my trips to Woodmere to see Grandma Ethel at the nursing home to all the time I spent looking out at the ocean while I compiled my Thirties/Eighties diary manuscript in my little laptop computer at Grandma’s old desk.

The last couple of summers in Gainesville, when I’ve been so hot and so poor, haven’t been as good as that summer of 1991, but I survived them, and I’ll get through the summer of ‘94.

Monday, April 25, 1994

7 PM. Instead of being relieved or joyous that my final final examination in law school is over, I’ve been in a sour mood ever since I started walking home once I realized how much I’d missed and how much I’d gotten plain wrong on Hunt’s final.

How could he expect us to remember the standard for issuing preliminary injunctions in a copyright infringement action? (I went with the usual statement.) I missed a whole preemption question and I know I blew other answers.

If I get a C+ or lower on the exam, there goes my High Honors. My only hope is that other people did a lot worse. And I can’t actually see Min or Judd or Jim or Lorraine getting what I missed.

I did manage to show something of what I learned, but I feel that I couldn’t really show all I did know. Studying more wouldn’t have helped, although conceivably, studying less might have.

Shit – the highest grade I deserve on that exam is a B, and I knew all that stuff yet still descended into giddy incoherence as the test wore me down. Last year Donna came out of the Intellectual Property exam thinking she’d aced it and ended up with a C, so maybe it’s a good sign that I know enough to know what I missed.

Above all, I’m annoyed with myself for even caring.

I got a letter from Tom in Stuttgart today, and he sounds so happy that I find myself sour with envy over his life: he’s teaching fascinating courses, lecturing in German and foreign universities, and getting well-paid for it, too – and he got an $11,000 royalty check from Bantam for that SF novel he co-wrote.

My problem with envy is no sooner do I feel it than I feel worse for having stooped to feel it. I see envy as the sign of my own failure more than any of the facts of my life as compared with Tom’s.

Probably this is just a reaction to the end of law school. I knew I’d feel a letdown. My stomach feels icky, and it’s because I’m in such a bad mood I’m not digesting properly. Otherwise I never get stomachaches anymore.

Well, I’ll just do nothing tonight – or do whatever. I’ll leave grading papers, preparing and packing until tomorrow.

Last evening I reread my notes outside by the pool from 5 PM to 6 PM and again from about 7 PM until dark. I finished going over my notes this morning, and then I finished skimming what I’d starred and highlighted in the text.

I do enjoy studying, and I’ll miss it. Ah well, I’ve got that “Is that all there is?” feeling.

Remember after I graduated from Brooklyn College in June 1973 and my parents took me to The Floridian diner for lunch? I spilled a glass of Coke and was in a foul mood. At least right now nobody else has to put with me.

Deep breath.

Thursday, April 28, 1994

3 PM. Teresa called here yesterday afternoon while she was watching the preliminaries of the Nixon funeral on CNN.

She’s still a couch potato and wanted someone to dish it with. Her best friends Sue and Jim decided not to go out with her for her birthday last evening because they were “too depressed about Nixon.” Ha!

Teresa’s car died the other day, and if her mechanic doesn’t find a new engine, she’ll be auto-less. She doesn’t want to buy a car now. While she says it’s because she doesn’t want it to sit in the lot at the ferry slip in Bay Shore for five months while she’s on Fire Island, I’m sure she also doesn’t have the money.

I finally dragged myself off the phone when Ronna’s call-waiting interrupted Teresa. Joel, Ronna’s boyfriend, called to cancel their date – because of the terrible thunderstorm, he said. That makes the third Wednesday in a row he’s stood her up.

I told Ronna to come home although she was disappointed I’d already eaten.

She came in towards the end of the Nixon funeral (whose lesson is that even if you’re a crook, if you’re famous enough, a lot of people will cry for you). The first thing I said when I saw her was, “You’ve lost weight.”

She’s been on Weight Watchers for two months and has lost 22 pounds. I watched as she made herself dinner. Ronna said she’s not anal-retentive enough (like me) to keep writing down her food exchanges, and I know I only do it because I’m obsessive.

Joel, the Hofstra accounting professor, has made excuses not to go to this lecture series at the Lincoln Square Synagogue, and it’s one of the few things they can do during the period between Passover and Shavuoth.

Ronna seems fond of him, and they see each other every weekend. I feel guilty to admit this, but I was glad to hear Ronna say he was obese.

We talked for most of the evening. At one point, Leslie, her friend from work who’s keeping her furniture here, came by to take back one of her boxes of books.

I’m grateful for Leslie’s futon, which, when set on its frame, is a comfortable king-size bed.

When I told Ronna that I was thinking of moving to Tallahassee, Tampa or Orlando, she asked if I’d like to live with her mother.

Beatrice can’t find full-time work that pays above minimum wage, and she’d like some help with her expenses on that big house. It’s unlikely, but it’s something to think about.

Ronna still seems to like her job at Hadassah a lot although it must be harder since Harriet’s death.

That reminds me: yesterday, when the plane was landing, I thought, I’ll have to call Grandma Ethel and tell her I’m in New York – only for a second of course – but that was weird.

I slept okay and wasn’t very dizzy, and I felt fine today although I would not be surprised to get one of my travel-related viruses by the weekend.

Up at 6 AM, I probably should have showered and dressed after breakfast, but I was afraid I’d interrupt Ronna. However, she didn’t get out of bed until close to 9 AM. I’d forgotten she’s the opposite of me in the morning.

I taped a new Body Electric at 9 AM on WNYC/31 (it’s also on earlier on two other PBS stations), which I exercised to an hour ago.

Leaving the house at 9:30 AM, I dropped off my suit and the dress Ronna plans to wear on Saturday at the cleaners to be pressed, and I went downtown to visit Alice.

Taking the subway felt familiar; I don’t feel like a tourist in New York although I don’t feel that I live here, either.

I had to be announced by Alice’s doorman in her swanky lobby. On the 19th floor, Alice waited for me by her apartment door, looking decidedly un-swanky in a halter top and shorts.

After we hugged, I got the guided tour. All her windows face north, with an excellent view of the Empire State Building. She even put her bed in the middle of the bedroom so she can see the view clearly.

Alice has an office with her desk, computer, books, supplies and fax, and she’s got a kitchen that’s no bigger than mine and a dining area that’s a lot smaller than mine.

Actually, nearly every apartment I’ve had has been larger than Alice’s co-op. Of course, as Alice would be the first to point out, I haven’t lived in my own place in Manhattan.

I tried to make a fuss over her Art Deco furniture. It was nice, but I knew it was important to Alice to hear me praise it.

Although she sublet the Waverly Place apartment because she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to adjust, Alice said that after one week on East 15th Street, “I’d never go back to that dump.”

She still has a lot more work on her apartment left.

Alice surprised me by saying she needs a new career. Not that she isn’t successful: she had a good enough year with her books that she could quit Woman’s World, but she’s had a lot of hassles with Judy about the menopause diet book.

Judy, who’s going through menopause, sees it as a comprehensive work on menopause and nutrition, while Alice wants a lively, punchy book “without a lot of details about selenium.”

Alice said she’s become less ambitious and less interested in being rich, and she would trade money for more leisure just as long as she could pay her maintenance and mortgage.

The mortgage is now only 5%, but it will go up in November – when I assume Alice will lock in the new rate.

Alice doesn’t want to keep grinding out diet books when she’s 60 even though she knows she could get contracts for more of them.

In the office, Alice has framed caricatures – the street artist kind – of her and Peter, and she told me he has an identical set. I found them tacky, but that’s me.

Peter called while I was there. He had a cold and was upset because today, with his nasal voice, he had to videotape interviews with the cast of She Loves Me for permanent storage at the Lincoln Center Library of Performing Arts.

Another caller was June. Cliff is starting a newspaper for TriBeCa because there isn’t one. He knows desktop publishing and thinks the newspaper could be profitable. He hooked June into preparing the brochures to get the paper advertisers.

Research at the Census Bureau showed the neighborhood average per capita income is $90,000 – and people at Independence Plaza, the Mitchell-Lama co-op where June and Cliff live, bring the median way down.

I left soon after one of Alice’s friends from publishing came over to take her out to lunch. I’m going to see Josh for dinner, meeting him at his place at 6 PM.

Friday, April 29, 1994

1 PM. Yesterday, after I got back from Alice’s, I hung out here at Ronna’s for a while, and then went back downtown, taking the IRT to 42nd Street and transferring to the R and getting off at Eighth Street.

Josh looked the same and I knew exactly what he’d say to me: “You kept the weight off.” I’d forgotten how small Josh’s apartment was – but as he says, he doesn’t mind that he’d have to sell it at a loss because he doesn’t plan to sell it.

Sharon, his girlfriend, a cute doctoral student in occupational therapy – I’d say she’s about 28 – joined us, distraught over an apartment hunt that didn’t go well. She’s been living in the NYU dorm across the street and needs a new place to stay.

While I was there, Josh called an ex-colleague in Philly who owns an apartment on Broadway and 10th to see if he could get Sharon into it.

We went out, and since Josh said Sharon is a vegetarian on a low-fat diet, I suggested Quantum Leap on West Third Street, where I’ve gone to dinner with both Stacy and Pete. Neither Sharon nor Josh had ever been there, but afterwards they agreed it was a good choice.

Josh told me he invested money to buy 9% of a bar called KGB. Denis owns 57%, and it’s upstairs from the Kraine Art Gallery and Theater. (KGB = Kraine Gallery Bar.)

Josh called Denis to tell him I was in and that we were coming over to the bar. Denis wasn’t there, although we did see Melinda, the mother of Denis’s baby.

I liked Sharon a lot, and I think she’ll have an interesting spin on the Brooklyn College reunion tomorrow evening. Josh also persuaded Harry to come although he was now trying to get out of it, saying he’d gotten a bad haircut.

Josh says he’s dressing casually and not in a suit; he’ll go over to Brooklyn College from his parents’ house.

He sleeps over there periodically and said his father is “Auschwitz-thin” and has a problem differentiating day and night, but he’s still belligerent and feisty and says there’s nothing wrong with him.

Josh had described KGB as a dive, but it wasn’t bad. It’s a small room, and there weren’t many people there, but it had a pleasant atmosphere: dark red everywhere and old Communist posters and Soviet memorabilia. Josh bought me a club soda, just as he had paid form my dinner.

Everyone – Ronna, Alice, Teresa, and Josh so far – wants to ask me what I’m going to be doing with my life, and each person has his or her idea of what I should do that usually corresponds to what he or she would like to do. I was tired by 9:30 PM, and Josh and Sharon walked me to the subway.

I’d forgotten how crowded the train can be at that hour. I love to look at New Yorkers on trains and in the streets. There’s the same energy here I’ve always felt, but somehow people seem to be nicer, more polite – even storeowners.

I arrived home just before Ronna did. Tonight we’re finally going to spend time together, going to dinner and a movie.

Pete Cherches and I talked this morning. He has a friend coming in from Zimbabwe so he’s not sure when he can see me – plus, he’s returning to work on Monday.

Justin also left a message while I was wandering the Upper West Side this morning: he had terrible sinus problems and was home sick today.

I was kind of tired today. My brief forays around Manhattan have been so full of observations that they make each little trip seem more important than it really is.

Like my week in Los Angeles three years ago, I know I’m deliberately storing up a lot of “material” to get me through my next prolonged period away from New York City.

Saturday, April 30, 1994

8 AM. I just had some oatmeal and skim milk and a banana and swallowed all my vitamins. Ronna is still asleep, of course.

Tonight is the reunion, and we’re planning to go to Susan and Evan’s at 4 PM; registration is at 5:30 PM.

Teresa still didn’t have her car as of last night, and I have to call her to find out if they’d put the new engine in. Yesterday her parents came over so she could use their car to avoid being stranded.

Walking down Broadway to meet Ronna last evening, I saw the usual show of oddly-dressed characters (a bum with dollar bills sticking out under his cap, cops pulling over and arresting a drug dealer, a woman vomiting, a tuba player, etc.) and New York City scenes.

In front of the theater as I waited, I watched a group of mostly older women who spread out the banner “Ruth Retires! First Woman Union Projectionist: 1972-1994!” and had champagne and mylar balloons ready for the surprised Ruth as she came out of her last day at the Loew’s 84th Street sixplex.

Ronna and I went to the 6:30 PM showing of John Waters’ Serial Mom, which was pretty cute; I like his sensibility so much.

Afterwards we had dinner at Ollie’s across the street and then strolled home, stopping to get some groceries at the Food Emporium and a new health-food supermarket, where I got a few jewel and garnet sweet potatoes.

Starbucks, a Seattle espresso bar, opened yesterday at Broadway and 87th, while West 86th Street now has the designation “Isaac Bashevis Singer Boulevard.”

Teresa’s old block is now part of a historic district, said the new brown street signs. I love Upper Broadway.