A Writer’s Diary Entries From Late October, 1994
by Richard Grayson
Monday, October 24, 1994
4:30 PM. I just got home, and I’m exhausted and headachy. I’m glad I didn’t take my car in to be fixed today, because the day was stressful enough.
It’s a whole different life than I’m used to, and I don’t know how I’m going to like it.
Most of the problem, of course, is merely that everything is so strange to me and that I don’t know where everything is or what I’m doing.
There really wasn’t much for me to do until my 1:50 PM meeting with Liz, Ellen and the student aide, Stacey – whom I know from Women and the Law and who’s very sharp.
I went into work at 7:30 AM and got a parking permit. I can’t get a decal because I’m not in the system yet, and an hour ago, Katie from the Dean’s office called, wondering why I hadn’t mailed back the contract she sent me last week.
Of all things to get lost in the mail! Tomorrow I’ll have to start all over with signing a new contract.
There’s just so much for me to absorb, so many people to get to know. I feel I have no idea what I’m doing and that everyone else is speaking some language I don’t understand.
I wonder if Liz made a mistake in hiring me or if I made a mistake in accepting the job – but I expected to feel this way during my first few days at CGR.
Today was probably the worst of it. I don’t even know how to write about today because everything’s a blur.
Carol, Laura and Laurie are all very nice, and my secretary, Christy, is sweet and competent. Everyone at CGR is pleasant.
Carolyn didn’t come in at all today and I still don’t know how that works: people seem to drift in and out at odd hours, although Liz came in half an hour after I did and I left with her still there.
I guess the priorities I have to make are that in four weeks, Liz and I will go to the meeting in Tallahassee, and present at least four memos. Stacey has done work on some, and I’ve got to call this other guy, David, to come in tomorrow with what he’s done (after which Liz plans to let him go), and I’ve got a couple of memos to work on myself.
We’ll probably have at least six memos, and while there’ll be a lot of work involved, we’re in good shape.
Carol keeps coming in with stuff for me to sign (like the new grant proposal to continue my work for DOE) and with information (I have travel money in both the CGR position and the DOE grant, and I can hire a research assistant at $7 an hour because $100 is budgeted for that).
A lot of this morning I didn’t know what to do, though I felt too stressed out to read the paper. There’s no clock in the office, so I dialed the time number about five times.
I wore a tie today although I don’t think I will tomorrow.
Home for lunch, I didn’t eat enough – only a sandwich and a sweet potato – and that may be one reason I’ve been stressed and headachy. Tomorrow I’ll probably go in a bit later. (I don’t think I’ll take the car in just yet.)
Last night I got only four or five hours’ sleep, so that didn’t help. I haven’t even opened my mail. I spent a lot of time helping Liz respond to a DOE attorney who wanted to know how to do a trademark search.
I wrote a short memo and faxed him some stuff but I don’t know if that’s useful.
Things will get better once I get acclimated to the office and get my email account and my computer hooked up and learn Word Perfect and familiarize myself with the routine.
If not, after a year I can decide that I want to give the job up. Right now I can’t even think about the future.
I need to call David, but I don’t think I’ll do any more work today even though I probably should.
Let’s see: Stacey and I will meet at 11:30 AM on Thursday, and Liz wants to meet David at 10:20 AM tomorrow.
It bothers me that I’ve told them I’ve applied for the Bar but am not a member. Carol asked me for my attorney number and I just said I don’t know it.
God, I’m still scared – but I guess that’s good.
Tuesday, October 25, 1994
4:30 PM. I still feel exhausted and disoriented. I’ll have to talk to Liz about sometimes working at home, where I could probably be more productive. I feel guilty when I sit and read the newspaper in my office, and I figure I can wait till the weekend to do my heavy-duty work.
But somehow I’ve got to adjust myself to working in the office. It will be easier when I’m online and can use E-mail, Lexis and Westlaw (Liz never uses her password for the latter, so I’ve got it).
I went in at about 8:30 AM and left just half an hour ago. I’m not sure anyone is watching me, but I feel like I’m “goofing off.” It’s hard to tell when other people are there. Carolyn isn’t coming in because there’s some administrative foul-up with her position, so I’m there before she is.
This morning Liz and I met with David; I’d spoken to him yesterday, and when I realized he knew what a crappy job he’d done and would be relieved to be out of CGR, I told him I’d take over his work.
It looked to me like they were really spending a lot of time on a question – whether ANSI, the American National Standards Institute, was a government agency – whose answer I found in no time on Nexis.
Last night when I realized that, I felt better about my own research skills. I’ll totally re-do his memo on ANSI/ASQC copyright of quality standards and another on waiver/release/notice.
I edited two of Stacey’s memos before our meeting on Thursday. The one on the privacy rights of public employees seems ready to go; she can revise the other one based on my comments and suggestions.
Hopefully, she also can work on a memo that David began.
I want to write a short memo on the Santa Rosa Junior College E-mail sexual harassment case, similar to the summary Stacey’s doing of the Microsoft agreement with the Justice Department.
While I was home for lunch, I got out my material from Intellectual Property and the Computer and the Law seminar to help me.
I’m sure I can pull this all together by three weeks from tomorrow, our deadline.
I did get my new contract signed by myself, Jon Mills and Dean Lewis.
And this afternoon Christy and I had a nice break from the office when we walked to the main campus to get our Gator 1 photo IDs at The Hub.
Christy is 25 and just finishing Santa Fe. A native Floridian, she spent the summer in Malaysia.
Back at the law school, I saw Dan M, Jim P (both in the LL.M. program) and Costas (who’ll graduate in August) and told them about my job.
I’m glad that until at least next summer, I’ll have acquaintances from my student days around. I also know a bunch of second-year students by face, if not name.
I saw Professors Nunn and Dowd outside but didn’t have time to speak with them.
I’m still weirded out by the job, but today was a lot easier than yesterday. I even got to exercise for half an hour last night, fifteen minutes this morning, and fifteen minutes just before I took a shower a little while ago.
I heard the judge kept the county charter amendment on the ballot, but I have no doubt that in light of the opinions of the Colorado Supreme Court in Evans v. Romer and Judge Spiegel in Equality Foundation II, it’s unconstitutional.
Because I slept only from 1 AM to 5 AM, I’m pretty fuzzy now – but I plan to go to the Civic Media Center at least till 8 PM. It’s important to me to be a part of the No on One campaign.
Besides, I probably won’t sleep better if I stay home and get under the covers at 8 PM. If I do sleep well, maybe I’ll have the energy to take the car in tomorrow and do some real work.
It was hard not to keep my mind from wandering last night. Instead of reading the Times in a leisurely way, I mostly skimmed articles, and I didn’t read one-third of the paper today.
But something’s got to give now that I’ve got a full-time job. I have to adjust to that and I need to set priorities.
As I get more comfortable at CGR, I’ll feel better about working there. I need to make my office my second home.
Maybe I should bring in some stuff like my maps of New York City and Los Angeles to make the office more like my house.
Wednesday, October 26, 1994
2 PM. I came home just now. It’s early and I feel awkward about it, but I know I can’t accomplish anything more in the office today.
Liz had taken one of the kids to the doctor, and I see Ellen didn’t come in till 11 AM. If my leaving early is held against me, I can’t help it; I’m totally wiped out.
I slept less last night than I did the night before. I was asleep maybe between 1:30 AM and 5:30 AM, if that much.
I’d thought maybe tiring myself with all the volunteer work on No on One would help. But although I got home at 8:30 PM and was in bed soon after that, once again I found myself unable to sleep.
I probably won’t exercise today; all I want to do is lie down. It’s a cool, drizzly day, and I feel exhausted. If I relax now, maybe I won’t feel so much pressure tonight.
When I got to the Civic Media Center last evening, a dozen people were already there, folding the latest letter to voters and potential contributors. I stamped envelopes with Cynthia, Kathy Freeperson and guy named Jeff.
Several unfamiliar faces were there along with all the regulars. Javier came in late after appearing on a WFTL radio show with a talk-show host who doesn’t believe in any anti-discrimination laws.
His appearance on the show was probably a waste of time, given what I had told Javier about that station’s very small audience in Broward. He said he did wonder why there were so few calls while he was on the air.
Just before our break, after which I left, Bob K, Kathy Lawhon and Phil Attey spoke about the campaign so far. It’s envisioned to cost $40,000 – the second most expensive campaign ever in Alachua County.
But we need to get money by next week or they’ll have to start canceling media buys. Already they’ve canceled ads on the local C&W station.
Javier announced a press conference of law professors for this afternoon – and since I am now a University of Florida College of Law faculty member, I stood in front of the No on One banner in the drizzle today at 12:30 PM.
Liz was next to me, but I was the only guy there, as Don Peters had to leave early. The others there were Wendy Fitzgerald, who read a statement on camera; Iris Burke and Peggy Schreiber from the Clinic; Alison Flournoy and Mary Twitchell.
Not a great turnout, but Javier read a statement from Professor Baldwin, who was made available to reporters in his office. I guess I’ll be on TV tonight. It’s weird, publicly “coming out” as a law school faculty member, if not as a gay person.
This morning, Jon Mills gave me a copy of the P.K. Yonge School at-risk demonstration project, and I scanned its contents. I also did some work on the ANSI/ASQC copyright memo.
I’m now on P-mail, the law school’s version of E-mail, and Rosalie answered my query and said she’d get me Lexis and Westlaw passwords.
Late last night, after I got back from the Civic Media Center, I actually did some work, but my Works file wouldn’t connect to Word Perfect, and all I got was gibberish.
I’ve got lots of memos from Mark, “the computer guy,” about connecting to NERVM, the UF system, and connecting to the Internet.
I brought lunch from home and ate it in my office, so I didn’t leave the school from 8 AM to 2 PM. Anyway, I left early because this is a special circumstance.
In the past two nights I’ve had a total of seven or eight hours of sleep. Because everything at work is so new to me, I’m very tense.
Early this afternoon, Stacey came in and asked to change our appointment tomorrow to Friday at 11:30 AM.
Obviously, with me feeling so tired, I didn’t try to bring my car in to be fixed.
The phone is ringing, and I fear it’s someone from work, wondering where I am. Nobody has ever told me that I have to be in office a certain amount of time. Today I was the only one besides the secretaries and Liz – who teaches Poverty Law at 8 AM – in at that hour.
I had messages from Pete Cherches; from Robin, a student in my SFCC Tuesday/Thursday class, who wanted to say that the class will miss me and to wish me good luck at UF; and from Phil, reminding me to come to AvMed for another meeting tomorrow night.
I had hoped that the $500 check Josh said he mailed on Saturday night would get here today because I’ve got only $37 in checking – but I got only junk mail.
I just skimmed today’s Times, and I guess now that I’m so busy, all I can do is read only the articles so fascinating to me that I can’t not read them.
The newness of the job has made me feel quite overwhelmed, but I’m also certain I can handle it once I get adjusted. These first few days are filled with so much that’s new, it’s no wonder my circuits are overloaded.
8 PM. I did everything I wrote I wouldn’t do in my afternoon diary entry: I exercised, and then I felt so much anxiety that I got dressed and returned to the law school at 3:45 PM.
No one had noticed my absence, or if they had, no one seemed to find it remarkable, and by the time I went home at 4:30 PM, there was almost no one left at the office.
While I was at CGR, I practiced using Word Perfect and read my P-mail. I’ve got my new Lexis and Westlaw passwords (my old Lexis password no longer works from my home computer) and I got the faculty directory from Christy.
Home at 5 PM after shopping for groceries, I had dinner and listened to All Things Considered and caught fleeting glances of myself on the local news on the PBS and ABC affiliates.
Then I finished (almost) the Times and again watched – it had been on at 7 AM – the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, set in the desert, with speeches by King Hussein, Prime Minister Rabin, and President Clinton.
I have performance anxiety about getting to sleep tonight, and my mind is still buzzing. In the past three days I’ve had so much to take in.
I really do feel I’m on the verge of a very different life. I’ve traded in jeans and sneakers for dress pants and shoes, and clothing is the least of the changes in my life.
Just when I had begun to get used to no longer being a part of UF law school, I’m back there as a kind of faculty member (non-teaching, but faculty).
In a way, I couldn’t have envisioned a better first job using my law degree, but I also have to learn to adapt to a different role.
I’ll be keeping a low profile – although today the cashier at Publix asked me if I’m a candidate for Congress because she saw my picture in the paper (probably the Florida Family Council Voters Guide).
It’s also weird being so active in a gay rights issue when I’m not “out” the way Javier or Bob are and have very little prior experience working in the gay community here or anywhere else.
Well, I kept out of the papers as I started law school and concentrated on learning. Similarly, I’ll concentrate on my job at CGR now.
In the back of my mind, I’ve always had the fantasy of one day being the president of a college.
Actually, I wanted to be acting president like Saul Touster at Richmond, because of the temporary nature of the job – and I can envision myself doing that as an elderly guy if I take a certain path with this job.
But there’s also writing. I don’t want to give up being a writer. When stuck, my first impulse is to write.
Thursday, October 27, 1994
4:30 PM. If I didn’t have to go to the No on One meeting to work tonight, I could relax now. Luckily I did sleep for seven hours.
Last night at 10 PM, I did a half-hour of exercise, so I’m okay for today, and I read the first (news) section of the Times when I came home for lunch. Maybe I’m still a little sleep-deprived, but tomorrow’s the end of the week and I can sack out on the weekend.
I got connected to Lexis and Westlaw today. Rosalie came over this morning, and one of the computer guys got my office machine connected so I can go through the Internet, and I can do it on my home computer, too.
This morning I took a call from that software company, Learner First, in Birmingham; I’m getting a handle on ISO standards copyrightability.
This morning I had brought in the Sun because of its front-page story on the P.K. Yonge School demonstration project proposal. Liz came in, and we discussed how we might be able to grab a hunk of the money.
Linda Baldwin, who worked in the legislature as Sid Martin’s aide, has been involved, and we met with her from 2:30 PM to 4 PM to discuss the proposal.
I reread the report and believe strongly in the project: to design a school where all kids, and especially at-risk ones, would get all kinds of social, health and welfare services for themselves and their families.
This kind of thing is exactly the best crime prevention program we can have. Of course, a lot depends on the election: it will be much harder to get funding if Chiles and Jamerson lose.
Dean McDavis, the new College of Education head, had the same job at the University of Arkansas when Clinton totally revamped K-12 education in that state.
Tomorrow at 10 AM, Liz and I will see Jon about the possibility of my meeting McDavis, whom everybody praises. Then, at 11:30 AM, I’m going to meet with Stacey, so I’ll probably go in later – about 9:30 AM or so.
Today I got Josh’s check for $500, and I need it until my first UF paycheck arrives.
Friday, October 28, 1994
4 PM. I left work an hour ago, thanking Carol, Laurie and Laura for making my first week pleasant. I feel good about my job, although a little intimidated by everything new.
Last evening’s session of No on One work took from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, and we had plenty of people to stick labels on postcards discussing the bad reputation anti-gay localities get in the business world and reminding people to vote No on Election Day.
I was driving there right behind Javier, and halfway during the evening, I moved over to where he and Bryan were working.
That guy I saw last week and thought was cute is their friend Jeff, but I could tell he had no interest in me. Why should he? I’m a short chubby troll and he’s a tall slim 25-year-old.
I’ve met a fair number of guys who are nice and whom I could see dating, but nobody’s shown the slightest interest. That’s basically okay because right now I can’t begin any kind of relationship.
Phil made his usual long talk and plugged HRCF and played tapes of the Senate hearing on the bill prohibiting discrimination in employment.
The congressional and gubernatorial elections still favor the Republicans, but they may have peaked and some Democrats formerly in trouble now have a chance of coming back.
If the Republicans don’t take over the House, people will be surprised – although their taking over the Senate looks to me like a sure thing.
I fell asleep at 11 PM after relaxing with the TV and computer, and up at 6 AM, I exercised to Body Electric on WUFT/5 before I had breakfast. I even went out and read the Times a little before going to work at 9 AM.
In the dean’s office, I paid $28 for a semester parking decal. Jon was late for our 10 AM meeting, but Liz had time to read the P.K. Yonge proposal.
I’m glad Jon dampened Liz’s enthusiasm just a little, because I think she was asking for too much money on a project that has shaky funding at best.
Still, Jon wants us to go ahead with a memo from Liz and be enthusiastic about the project when we meet with Dean McDavis – although we’ll raise several legal issues that I foresee.
Liz sensed my discomfort and said maybe we should wait till the end of next week to see how comfortable I am with the memos I’ve got for Tallahassee on the 21st.
I didn’t know what to do with Stacey when she arrived, but I took her revised memos plus the new one, and said I’d go over them this weekend and meet on Tuesday.
We also just chatted: she went to Penn and is the daughter of an English professor who now is at Palm Beach Community College in Boca. An excellent writer and very well-read, she seems very competent although she did poorly in Legal Research Writing.
After doing some research on Westlaw after lunch, I got a call from the mother of a learning-disabled eight-year-old whom Iris Burke had recommended consult me.
Her daughter Amanda, whose disabilities aren’t visible – she was a preemie who’s got lots of problems with cognitive skills – is in third grade at Littlewood Elementary.
This year she was mainstreamed due to her high reading level, but the teacher punishes Amanda because she can’t finish her work on time. Despite a note from the mother, yesterday – for the second time – the teacher kept Amanda from going on a class field trip as punishment.
The girl was devastated and now has a negative attitude toward school. There wasn’t much I could do but be an active listener, praising the woman’s efforts as her child’s advocate.
I told her it appears that due process was violated when they never had a hearing or gave her notice of the decision to mainstream Amanda. I told her to call me next week after her meeting with school officials.
I try to keep notes on meetings and phone calls, but I don’t do a very good job.
Carol asked me how I think Christy is doing – fine, I said – and told me to give her more stuff to do. I’m not used to having a secretary, much less a research assistant, so I don’t know how to delegate stuff for them to do.
Carol told me to have fun this weekend, but I intend to spend much of the time going over the memos. Liz left early, and both she and Ellen (who came in this afternoon) were dressed casually, in jeans and sneakers.
Today was relatively cool and dark and I wore my sport jacket again. I’ve got a lot to do this weekend, and I’ll probably accomplish only a fraction of what I’d like to do.
I still can’t take the car in to anywhere but Mobil, even with Josh’s $500 and Monday’s SFCC pay. But in two weeks, I’ll get my first UF paycheck.