A Writer’s Diary Entries From Early December, 1994

by Richard Grayson

Thursday, December 1, 1994

9 PM. Thursday nights are, like, great. The anticipation of only one more day of work and a wonderful weekend ahead beats reality time and again. I’ve always loved Thursday evenings.

Last night I fell asleep early. I woke up at 5:45 AM after dreaming that Marc and I were taking a Greyhound bus to Valley Stream from Gainesville.

At 6 AM, I exercised to Body Electric as WUFT/Channel 5 came on the air, and I got to work at 7:30 AM. Liz was getting ready for her last day of teaching Poverty Law.

I read a front-page Times story on how men in their prime working years are dropping out of the labor force. It’s mostly displaced uneducated men. Their wives are working more, because the new service-type positions being created – the kind that use brains, not formal education – are jobs men won’t take.

This is an amazing phenomenon of 1990s America: blue-collar men would rather not work than take jobs they perceive as feminine. To be fair, though, most employers won’t hire men for those jobs, either.

I read a lot this morning: newspaper articles in the paper and on Nexis, and that law review article on gay public school students.

Liz said my stories are very good: “And, Richard, you’re as weird as shit.”

She came into my office in mid-morning because she couldn’t take being in the middle of making up her final exam. I’m glad she thinks of me as a friend.

Mom called after we’d been talking for a while, and Liz left.

“Is anything wrong?” I asked Mom.

No, she said, but she couldn’t get me and it was so long since we’d spoken. So long? We had just talked.

“That was last weekend,” Mom said dismissively.

Marc got out of the flea market and he went to the police after the owner threatened to break his fucking fingers when he saw Marc taking down a pegboard that Marc owned.

This weekend Marc is taking his goods to an open-air market in the Keys with a friend, “only they’ve got to sleep in the van.”

It occurred to me that Ken, the student who was working at CGR yesterday, was the guy I saw standing on line talking with Javier at the Christian Legal Society Thanksgiving meal last week.

I didn’t think Ken was gay, and he’s probably not; to be honest, I hadn’t thought about him at all. I’m so bad about judging people based on their looks – and he isn’t even that bad-looking.

Wendy E-mailed two questions to Liz, which Liz forwarded to me, and I’ve gotten started researching them.

They want to know if there are laws regarding the use of SGML – Standard General Markup Language – because Texas passed a law making it mandatory that texts be in SGML so they can be easily transferred to Braille.

SGML is one of those industry standards I’ve got to read more about.

A trademark search for “Florida Learning Support System” turned up only one close mark: Learning Support System, registered by Learner-First, the same company in Birmingham that has the copyright on the ASQC standards – but I think EBEC is bringing them into the co-development agreement.

I left the office at 2:30 PM, hours after Liz did – she left before lunch, even – so I didn’t feel bad, and I worked at home the rest of the afternoon.

Tomorrow I’ll go in later than usual. On Fridays, parking is easy, and tomorrow is the last day of classes so I don’t have to worry about finding parking if I arrive later in the next few weeks.

At 5:45 PM, I left the house and drove to UF, parking outside Criser Hall to attend the World AIDS Day commemoration at the tower.

I said hi to Dottie Dreyer and a few others, and soon the candlelight marchers arrived. I got a candle at the table, and Bob K lit it with his although it kept going out in the stiff wind.

As night fell, it got quite chilly – but after all, it is December. I stood for over an hour near Bob and Tim, in a crowd of about 150 people.

Someone from the North Central Florida AIDS Network introduced the speakers. There was Dr. Sorensen, the provost, who’s apparently very good on AIDS issues (he’s been active in the field for many years), and a Methodist minister whose prayers were quite moving; she also quoted the last lines of Joyce’s “The Dead,” which I have always loved.

Another woman, who lost her brother to AIDS, quoted Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey (“Love is the only survival, the only meaning”), and others came up to the mic and spoke about loved ones they’d lost: friends, relatives, adult children – and people from NCFAN discussed the work that needs to be done.

Names of people I knew who died of AIDS flashed through my mind as I looked up at the sky and listened to the tolling of the carillon in the tower. I’ve been so lucky that none of my closest friends has died, but I also feel guilty because I haven’t been involved in AIDS work.

A beautiful young lesbian played “Dying to Live” on the clarinet as another woman sang the old Edgar Winter song, whose lyrics seemed so appropriate.

Finally we just put all our candles together at the base of the tower and a speaker urged us to go forward, to remember all the dead, but to concentrate on helping the living.

Friday, December 2, 1994

8 PM. I fell asleep at around 10:30 PM last night. My most complicated dream involved me taking a three-hour final or a bar exam and dawdling until I realized I didn’t have enough time to finish the test – or even do well enough to pass.

In a way, that dream prefigured my day, for new things kept being thrown at me without the chance to do much. However, I did do more work today than I did the other days this week. I had a lot of energy after exercising at 8 AM and getting to school a little later today.

I began the memos based on Wendy’s E-mail queries. A rather technical article on SGML fascinated me because of its application to all authors, who can now create their own documents that can be connected to large print, Braille and other non-print formats.

It took me several phone calls (to the Association of American Publishers, among others) to track down experts on SGML, and they weren’t at their Northern Virginia company office.

Wendy sent Liz a big package she dropped on me (as she should have) with more Schoolyear 2000 stuff to do, including a reminder that I promised to revise and clarify the menu on the Software Rental Amendments Act.

I also took time to go over Liz’s draft of her Poverty Law final exam and help her clarify and edit the questions.

At 11:30 AM, we went to Bailey Courtroom for the informational session on the Florida Bar Foundation Fellows program. (It’s funded by IOTA, the Interest on Trusts Accounts.)

Liz had forgotten to dress up – on days she doesn’t teach, she often dresses casually, and she had on sweats today – but I wore a tie and jacket.

She expected about ten people, and we had six – half black women and half white men (who are of course interested in the two environmental fellowships, not the ones dealing with poverty law).

I’m looking forward to being involved in the fellows program, even the interviewing – which Liz says is very draining and which will take up the whole third week in January.

Liz won’t be around much during the Christmas holidays, when the kids are out of school, and she seemed surprised when I said I’d be going in to the office to work. Actually, I figure a lot of those holiday-week days are good times to get work done.

I don’t think I’ll do much with the work I took home this weekend, but I’ll try. I put in a full seven-hour day, getting to work before 9 AM and leaving after 4 PM.

Tim Percell came in and seemed to have fixed my printer.

I’m growing pretty comfortable with my job, and I like dealing with the women in the office. I’m happy to work in a place that seems run by women.

Christy arranged for us to have a Christmas luncheon at Wolfgang’s downtown next Friday.

As I left school, I wished Dave G and Jim P well on their LL.M. finals.

My mail included three bills I can’t yet pay, and a Christmas card from Bob K, who enthusiastically thanked me for my No on One work.

Also, Rick Peabody sent a form letter soliciting to write a story for Mondo Royals, which he and Lucinda been working on for six months.

I’ve tried to think of something but I’m having a hard time, and I probably won’t do any better than I did with their anthologies about Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and James Dean.

Rick sent the front and back covers of his and Lucinda’s New Press abortion anthology, Coming to Terms: A Literary Response to Abortion.

Between the publication of that book and Mondo Marilyn, they will be busy the next few weeks.

Barbara Sloan called to say that Iris got complaints from students who had grades from me that weren’t reflected on my roll book. She mentioned Mia Fisher, who had done three rewrites which I’d (overgenerously) given each a B-. I’ll have to give Iris a revised roll book.

What a pain. I guess the English 101 students have their final next week. God, I’m so glad I’m not teaching at Santa Fe anymore.

I’d like to work on revising stories and sending out fiction this weekend, but I’ve got so many other things to do: laundry, shopping, going on various errands. I haven’t even made up my To Do list yet because I dread how long it will be.

Monday, December 5, 1994

7 PM. Now that finals have begun, a parking space at the law school isn’t so difficult to find, so I can go in a bit later.

Up at 6 AM, I lay in bed for a while and then ate breakfast by 7 AM, so I could exercise an hour later, after I had heard the whole two-hour cycle of NPR’s Morning Edition.

I also went out to get the Times so I could begin reading it and avoid taking the newspaper to work.

I felt I looked good today. My three-day stubble and my gelled hair made me feel attractive, and I wore my green plaid Tommy Hilfiger polo shirt with my forest green pleated slacks.

I’m glad I accidentally (not purposely) ran into Javier as he was going into the library, even if he didn’t notice me at first.

Javier told me he’s got three finals on the next three consecutive days, smiling that smile that makes my stomach go scrunchy like a 15-year-old girl’s.

I smiled back and said, “It’s always like that,” and “If I don’t see you, have a good vacation.”

Last week was easier because I didn’t see him. But I like seeing him.

I’ve got to remember that it’s not Javier so much as my own loneliness that makes me think I’m crazy about him. Well, maybe it is Javier, a little. Maybe – is this an insight? – I’ve got a crush on him precisely because I know he’s with Bryan and he’s never looked at me twice.

This way I can avoid a real one-on-one relationship with a guy. That does sound like it makes sense – except that I liked him before I realized he was unavailable.

And the other part is that I’m simply lonely for friends, not just for a love object.

(Object is the right word. I don’t view this poor guy as a person to have a relationship with. I’m pretty pathetic – but realizing what I’m doing will help, which is why this subject is worth all this ink.)

I E-mailed Wendy some of my findings on the trademark problem and I asked her some questions to clarify exactly what she’s looking for.

Liz came in all excited about some article in the paper yesterday about UF’s College of Education getting involved in distance learning.

She finally wrote the letter about me and CGR to Dean McDavis. After I edited it, revising my educational credentials to make me sound better, we had Linda Baldwin look at it.

The more research I’ve done on the Computer Software Rental Amendments Act of 1990, the more I’ve realized that Stacey did a really crappy job on her memo.

Of course, as her supervisor, presenting the memo to Schoolyear 2000 without revising it was my fault.

I’m glad I kept Ellen’s notes on this one memo, as it will have to be completely rewritten. I’m better off just starting from scratch.

By 3 PM, I was tired and came home. But I brought the folder and some books with me, and I’ll try to work on the memo this evening.

Mom forwarded a letter from Secretary of State Jim Smith, appointing me to the 1995-96 grants panel for Literature – but only for Organizations.

I guess they’ve now divided Literature the way they did the other disciplines, into two panels, one for Organizations and one for Individual Artists. (This probably means I can still apply for a grant for myself.)

Anyway, the meeting is on June 6, and I’m happy to be asked. It’s another line on my résumé and another chance to go to Tallahassee – and maybe stay overnight this time.

I guess Smith must be impressed with my work for the Republican Party. I’ll send back the acceptance and conflict of interest statement tomorrow, along with my change of address and a brief bio note.

I got a call from Fitness magazine, checking on quotes for an article by Alice on dieting. They said they would send me a copy of the March issue in which it will appear.

Newt Gingrich seems to be running the country these days as the Speaker-designate runs his mouth off at the drop of a microphone.

Thursday, December 8, 1994

7:30 PM. Last night I dreamed about trademark infringement: I kept spotting fruit snacks with the Richard Grayson logo on them.

When I woke up, I heard a droning voice and realized that my neighbor’s TV was probably playing Alan Greenspan’s Congressional testimony on C-SPAN.

The Fed sees inflation everywhere, but even with unemployment at 5.6%, it’s not visible yet. I suspect these interest rate hikes will cause a recession in a year or so.

When I got to work, I reviewed my memo on the Software Amendments Act, which looks fine. Liz came in late and didn’t get a chance to look at the revised version before I left at 3 PM. So I didn’t have all that much to do today.

I read the proposed statutes about co-development that Schoolyear 2000 is going to try to get through the legislature; they first have to get it by Brogan, the new Education Commissioner, I guess.

Wendy Cuellar and the rest of them actually think they and their co-developer EBEC and its partners are going to make money with their product.

My own feeling is that while Deming’s Total Quality Management is a boon in industry, it may not translate that well to education. Students aren’t customers, and they’re not products, either.

Yesterday the Times had an article about Brooklyn’s Westinghouse High School using Total Quality Management that even mentioned ASQC.

Liz says that TQM aficionados talk like True Believers.

I also read a couple of new law review articles I had Christy xerox for me: one on peer sexual harassment of students, and the other on the abstraction-filtration-comparison test of Computer Associates Int’l v. Altai for copyright infringement of software, which proved a good review of intellectual property issues.

Behind my closed office door, I also read the papers and chatted with Mom, but I had shpilkes today.

I did have a nice talk with Dan M, who’s grown a luxuriant black beard. (My own beard is pretty thick and I think I like it.) His first of five LL.M. finals was yesterday, and it was relatively easy – but the workload during the semester is so tough that the professors make sure the students know their stuff.

Besides, UF grad students need a B average, so the professors know they can’t give out C’s lightly the way they do to law students or they’d lose a lot of the LL.M. class.

At 3 PM, I got into my car – which was parked next to Javier’s red Thunderbird; he must have been taking his last final today – and drove to the downtown library, where I got the names of five little magazines from the International Directory.

Before and after dinner, I’ve been getting together manuscripts and self-addressed stamped envelopes. I guess I’ve sent out about seven copies of “Boniatos Are Not Boring.” This submission is an expensive deal.

In a way it’s futile to be published in a little magazine now. Aren’t I just wasting time and money? After 165 or so published stories, another five or ten isn’t going to help my “career.”

I feel I really slacked off at work today. But then it’s that time of year.