A Writer’s Diary Entries From Late May, 1995
by Richard Grayson
Monday, May 22, 1995
8 PM. Up at 6 AM, I was at work before 9 AM. This morning I concentrated on getting the material ready for Wendy Cuellar.
After Laura got the manual, I was able to convert the WordPerfect files to Microsoft Word – at least I hope I did. But I couldn’t bear to read the 22-page “new cases” memo again, and I don’t think I’ll give it to Liz tomorrow, either.
The Publication Office’s Cynthia Macmillan said she’d send over a disk with the .FIL file that has the UF seal for me to use in the book.
I wrote a letter to Wendy, enclosing some other stuff for her. When I get the Publication Office’s file in interoffice mail, I’ll mail out the envelope to FSU.
One reason I didn’t do much else today is that I figure my job at CGR is probably ending, So what do I care?
I had planned to spend time on my self-evaluation letter for Jon, but why bother, since by the time of my annual evaluation on June 14, I’ll probably know I won’t be coming back?
A look at the UF personnel handbook tells me that when I’m terminated, I can convert my unused annual leave and one-quarter of my unused sick leave to cash payments.
Calling Unemployment, I learned that the current maximum weekly benefit is $250, which is better than teaching three SFCC classes part-time.
I can probably get by if my expenses drop $450 a month when I put my student loan payments in abeyance.
Of course, in these days of frugal government, you don’t get unemployment benefits for as long as you did in the good old days.
I wondered if there would be a big Supreme Court decision today, and there was: by a 5-4 vote, they struck down state congressional term-limit laws.
The ruling, printed out on Lexis, ran 95 pages, and I haven’t gotten through it all yet, but it did cause an argument between me and Russ.
He buys into all that conservative crap, and given how strongly I feel, it’s hard for me to silence my opinions. But once it got too heated, I said, “Well, we better not discuss it anymore because we just argue.”
He felt he had to get in the last word, so I just smiled and nodded in response.
Russ’s most common expression is “Mercy!” While he gets on my nerves sometimes, I’m sure I must get on his nerves as well.
But he’s a better fit for CGR than me: like Jon, he’s a white Protestant Southerner, and Jon is about as conservative as it’s possible to be and still be a Democrat.
Actually, the white male domination of CGR makes me a little antsy. It would be nice to have a black person here as an attorney, but I guess they would have hired that woman instead of me if she’d been available to start last fall.
Psychologically, I’m getting ready to leave CGR. While Carol tells me that the salary money always seems to be there and that Joann has written me in on all the grant applications, I feel the need for concrete assurances.
Maybe if I felt more attachment to my job, I’d stay and hope for the best. But obviously a very big part of me wants to move on.
Although I’ll very much miss my paychecks, the relatively easy workload and the flexible hours, what I’ll probably miss most is access to Lexis and Westlaw.
On the other hand, whenever anything is lost, something else is gained.
It’s nice that Carol tells me that she hopes I’ll stay and that she thinks everyone else feels the same way, but maybe it’s better that I leave now while everyone still likes me.
I talked to Dan M, who said he’s anxious to get his LL.M. in tax and find a decent job.
Last week Dan had an interview with Dow Chemical in Michigan’s Tri-Cities area, and he’s had other interviews in New York, but he says employers seem to be waiting to hire until they sort out what’s going on with the economy.
Dan is definitely going out of state, as the job market in Florida is terrible. He asked about my plans, and I talked about going to New York City and maybe getting into what the New York Times revamped Monday Business Day section is devoted to: “the information industry.”
I suspect that while there will be a lot of failures and shakeouts in building the infobahn, there’s definitely a future in the business.
While I don’t have much technical know-how, I’m familiar with programming, I know how to use applications, I have legal expertise and am creative.
If I could find a job at a laid-back Third Wave enterprise, I think I’d really enjoy it.
Thursday, May 25, 1995
3 PM. Last night, while I was reading Wired, Craig Lowe called to ask if I’d attend tonight’s Board meeting of the Human Rights Council at SFCC’s Downtown Center.
Since the HRC Board has lost Eden, Bryan and Javier, I wonder if they’re going to ask me to join. (I saw that Javier graduated with honors, which I expected).
Before today, I would have said that I didn’t know if I were going to remain in town. I still plan to keep my voting residence in Broward out of some kind of stubbornness.
It will be weird to be so publicly uncloseted, but over the last year I’ve certainly been moving toward being “out” with everyone I know in town.
I wouldn’t think much of it in New York or Miami (except maybe that my parents are there), but it can only be an interesting experience to see if people relate to me differently knowing I’m a gay activist.
This morning at work, Liz wanted to see me as soon as she came in. She’d spoken to Wendy, who told her that Schoolyear 2000’s budget is going from $7.5 million to $4.1 million, and the best she could do for us was a $25,000 grant – half what we had last year.
I made Liz happy when I said that would be good enough for me. She tried to get Wendy to go higher, but Wendy wouldn’t.
Liz mentioned that she said something impolite when, after Wendy asked if CGR could use its influence with the legislature to help Schoolyear 2000, Liz informed her that Jon’s clout in the Capitol is waning. (Wendy had been totally ignorant of the Republican plan to defund CGR.)
Liz also implored Wendy to find other people in education who could use CGR’s services and thus keep me working.
Liz and I went to see Carol, who tried to explain the arcane way we are paid. Apparently, for the last two months I’ve been paid out of the Historic Preservation grant while Ellen has been paid out of Department of Education funding.
Anyway, Carol said that the best thing would be an extension of the DOE grant for nine months rather than six months.
That way she’d have more flexibility in paying me: If nearly all the $25,000 went to my salary, I’d be paid until early February – or slightly earlier, if our raises come through.
That’s fine with me. I called Scott at the rental office, and after first saying he’d already leased my apartment, he saw that he hadn’t, and told me to come in tomorrow to sign a nine-month lease that would take me to the end of April 1996.
Of course, Liz and I have always had different agendas. I’ve never been as interested in pure education law as she thinks I am.
Because Wendy hasn’t returned Liz’s last E-mail message, nothing’s official yet, but Liz seems to think the $25,000 is a sure thing.
I hope I’m not gambling by signing a lease, but nine months (even at a higher rate) protects me a little. Even on unemployment insurance, I could support myself until next April.
Russ was cheerful today, and we got along fine. He wore a T-shirt and shorts, so I guess I can dress more casually, too.
I completed my self-evaluation for Jon, and after another trip to CIRCA, I put all the memos into Microsoft Word 5.0.
Cynthia Macmillan’s secretary said she sent the .TIF file out in yesterday’s mail, so I should soon be ready to send out everything to Annette Rice at the Center for Educational Technology at FSU. (Wendy doesn’t know anything about the technicalities of formatting, she told Liz.)
Josh E-mailed me more obnoxious stuff about Tom, which I responded to, and I also told Josh about my job and apartment situation.
I probably won’t be able to pay off all my bills by next spring – because unexpected expenses tend to come up and if I have the money, I’ll gradually start to spend more.
But if I could pay everything off, it would make moving a lot easier.
I’m also thinking about taking time off this summer to go to New York and visit Ronna for a couple of weeks. (That’s assuming I don’t get a call from the waiting list at MacDowell.)
I really need to get out of here for at least a few weeks during Gainesville’s oppressive summer. Even though the worst is ahead of us, I already feel wiped out by the heat and humidity.
It’s almost Memorial Day weekend, and I have a ton of reading to catch up on – including going over all the grant applications for literature organizations for the June 6 panel meeting in Tallahassee.
Friday, May 26, 1995
4 PM. When I called my parents’ house early last evening, Jonathan answered, as he was alone in the house.
It turns out he’s going to drive across I-40, which makes sense, given that his ultimate destination is Flagstaff. (Mom, who, like Grandma Ethel, tends to get her stories mixed up, had said he was heading for the Four Corners area.)
The stories I read in the Arizona Republic make Flagstaff sound like a wonderful place: a town of 50,000 with a lot of coffee shops, trendy stores, and newly transplanted Californians alongside a proud Western heritage going back to the coming of the railroad century ago.
Seven thousand feet up, Flagstaff is a ski resort that’s less pretentious than Vail or Aspen. Jonathan’s plans made me envious, seeing how I’m staying put in Gainesville a little while longer.
At the HRC meeting last evening were Craig, Tim Martin, Tim Burke (briefly, since he had to go back to the Iris Bookstore, where they were working on Pride ’95 stuff), Abby, Susan, Denise, Mark Knight and Kathy Lawhon.
Kathy seems to drag out meetings with minutiae although that tendency is probably endemic to meetings, making me remember why I dislike them. Abby had a set of by-laws that called for a steering committee open to all who want to join and actively participate.
I worked hard to avoid volunteering for anything, including being the group’s TV spokesperson.
Next Thursday, Suzanne Goldberg from Lambda Legal is going to speak at the Millhopper library, and I said that when the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Student Union got out leaflets for the event, I’d make sure they went up at the law school.
After I exercised, showered, and dressed this morning, the rental office still wasn’t open, so I bought groceries at Albertsons and 50 Nixon stamps at the post office.
Then Scott had me sign a lease extension expiring on April 30, 1996. My rent will still be $289, a bargain.
At CGR, Liz came in my office and gave me a review copy of Martin Amis’s hot new novel, The Information, that her brother had brought with him and which their father had enjoyed reading. Liz didn’t like it.
She said we could only get a six-month extension of the grand from DOE, but another staff attorney will be paid from it for a couple of weeks, and I’ll make up the salary from that person’s grant in early 1996.
Because the judge in the Stratton Oakmont defamation suit ruled yesterday that Prodigy is a publisher and the case can go forward, I want to update my memo – but I have to do it on Microsoft Word, not WordPerfect. I wish we had both programs in the office.
On Delphi’s Computer Law discussion list, people posted messages about the case, so I posted the portion of my memo dealing with online defamation. (I hope I don’t get flamed.)
Guess who was mentioned in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times?
My Eclipse service from Nexis found a page 5 “Washington Insight” political column on in which a paragraph cited Federal Election Commission records to show there’s life at the extremes of political thought in America.
On the right, they cited a PAC called Americans for Fascism. And “[o]n the far left: Richard Grayson from Gainesville, Florida, filed a statement of candidacy for Congress last year identifying his campaign committee as God Hates Republicans, a title that led inevitably to this question: If that were true, why did Grayson receive just 152 votes as a write-in candidate for the seat won by Rep. Michael Bilirakis, a Republican?”
I think that’s great; I like being in the L.A. Times even if I’m paired with neo-Nazis.
But that’s the difference between the right and the left: they’re Nazis, and I’m only joking.
When Mom called, I asked her to send me the invitation to Elliott’s bar mitzvah so I could find the synagogue in D.C.
She said Aunt Sydelle was angry with Dad for not attending, especially because Scott’s older half-brother will be there, the one they never told Robin or Scott about until after Uncle Morty died in 1965. Scott has apparently gotten in touch with him on business trips to California.
But I’ll be the only relative from Aunt Sydelle’s side of the family – and she’ll be the only person there I’ll know.
I don’t know why I’m going to the bar mitzvah, but it seems as if it will be interesting.
I didn’t do much at work today. During my lunch break, I went to a full-serve gas pump (I didn’t need transmission fluid) and to the bank ATM to withdraw some cash (my paycheck got directly deposited).
I’ve got a lot of reading to do this weekend, but I have three days – and Pulp Fiction has finally reached the dollar theaters.
Saturday, May 27, 1995
5 PM. I’ve just come back from seeing Pulp Fiction. I don’t care what Tom said about it being an immoral movie, I enjoyed it and liked Tarantino’s style.
Last evening I read eight articles in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series from the Washington Post by Leon Dash about a 53-year-old “welfare mother.”
Rosa Lee Cunningham has been a heroin addict, prostitute and shoplifter, and most of her children and grandchildren are caught in the same culture of crack, poverty, illiteracy and trouble with the law.
After reading this week’s U.S. Term Limits opinion, I find it astonishing that four members of the Supreme Court seem to want to turn us back to the Articles of Confederation.
With the congressional Republicans shifting everything back to the states, with militias and right-wing nuts making the federal government the enemy, it’s a scary time.
Abby called to tell me that Kathy had called her and said that the guy from LBGSU never got the Suzanne Goldberg leaflets, that they were at the Iris Bookstore and I should get them there and put them up on campus.
I agreed to do this, but today I when I went to the store, they didn’t have the leaflets at the bookstore. Someone brought over just one leaflet yesterday, and no one could find it, so I was unable to have it copied at my own expense.
Fuck them if I’m taking it any further. I wouldn’t doing mind the work or spending my own money on this, but I’m not going to be responsible for everyone else’s fuck-ups. I’m not some kid.
(It must be the Tarantino influence that’s got me talking like this.)
Up at 7 AM, I did laundry and read most of the papers. On Lexis, I found that today’s Washington Times “Inside Politics” column had reprinted the story on God Hates Republicans from the Los Angeles Times.
I think it’s neat being in the papers in both D.C. and L.A. But then I’m shallow, what can I tell you?
I figure it will take a week for the main library to get last Thursday’s Los Angeles Times so I can xerox the article, not just the database printout.
After doing aerobics, I got off a much-delayed letter to Tom, and then I had lunch.
It occurred to me to get the diskette with the memos (no, I still haven’t gotten the .TIF file) and update it to include the Stratton Oakmont ruling about Prodigy.
But I didn’t have time to go to CIRCA on the main campus, and besides, I can’t keep updating everything. After all, I’ll have Schoolyear 2000 work for the rest of the year. I don’t have to be so compulsive.
Tomorrow is my parents’ anniversary, but Dad and Marc are leaving for San Juan in the morning on a sales trip. Supposedly that’s why Jonathan postponed his trip: so Mom wouldn’t be alone.
Wednesday, May 31, 1995
8 PM. As we move into June, it’s still light at this hour.
I just returned from the law school, where I tacked up the leaflets for Suzanne Goldberg’s talk tomorrow evening.
Craig called last night and asked me to pick up copies at Target Copy today, but I told him I could only do the law school, not the entire UF campus. That should be a young person’s job, and I’m halfway to 88 – or as I told Liz today, more likely I’m two-thirds of the way to death.
Our office calendar for June has a cake and my name on it for Sunday, and Liz asked if I planned on doing anything special.
“No,” I said, “I never do anything for my birthday.”
Last night I read Neil Simon’s California Suite, which in one of the playlets has a gay character married to a flamboyant British actress up for an Oscar.
The same couple, now divorced, are also in London Suite, Simon’s current off-Broadway production, so I’ll have to get a copy of that for my article.
I didn’t have much to do at work today. I still have not received the brochure from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do except look stupid at these workshops.
I suppose I need to phone them, but we discussed this weeks ago, and I’m furious at their incompetence.
This afternoon, while Russ was out to lunch, I called Ronna and finally got to speak with her.
As usual, she’s busy with work, especially now because they’re changing division chairs (Hadassah members who work with the staff in various areas).
Ronna’s relationship with Matthew is going well – enough so that she said she hopes to be living in Philadelphia by next summer. They’re not yet engaged, but I hope Ronna finally does marry Matthew and become Chelsea’s mother.
She stays with them in Philadelphia most weekends because Matthew is often on call. But when he comes to New York for the weekend, he drops the baby off with his parents in New Jersey.
I hope to see Ronna in early July when she comes to Orlando for her uncle’s unveiling. I’m not sure I remembered that Richard had a fatal heart attack last fall. (It doesn’t surprise me, given his medical history and lifestyle. But I feel bad for Aunt Roberta and his kids.)
Ronna said her mother is a little blue about not having a job right now. Billy is deciding whether to stay another year here in Gainesville at UF, where they’ve managed to find money to extend his grant.
After I filled Ronna in on my life, she said I should send her some new stories.
I had to deal with another one of those sheets about what percentage I do of what, and Jon had me change it to 90% organized research, 5% administrative duties, 5% public service.
I chatted with Liz and Russ, who by now obviously realizes that Liz and I are both flaming liberals from the way we talk about welfare, affirmative action, and poor people.
I don’t think Russ has had much contact with poor people or minorities because he talks about them as if he’s describing foreigners.
The Times had a front-page photo of that devastating tornado’s destruction in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. It killed several people and razed many homes and a shopping center.
That was the strip mall with the Price Chopper supermarket and the laundromat and the Mexican restaurant we used to go to when I was at the Millay Colony in July 1984.
I have good memories of that time.