A Writer’s Diary Entries From Mid-July, 1996

by Richard Grayson

Thursday, July 11, 1996

9 PM. Today I felt cheerful, full of the sense of possibility.

While I was exercising this morning, I thought about how the piece I sent Happy with my subscription renewal would probably be accepted.

Then, in today’s mail, I got a letter from Bayard, the editor with one name, saying my piece was great and that I should send it on a disk along with the usual two words to print alongside my photo.

It probably won’t come out until their last issue in 1997, as they’re overstocked, so I can only hope that the magazine will last that long.

And this afternoon I got an e-mail from Kevin so we can now communicate again.

He still is as wonderful as ever, calling me his sweet giant, saying how lovable I sounded on the phone.

Kevin got a job at Warner Bros. Records in A&R (artists and repertoire) administration issuing expense checks to the artists who come to record there.

He should be in a better living situation in a couple of weeks: “I’m interviewing with a screenwriter who wants to share his home with me. He has a pool, ooh!”

Kev and I exchanged our usual cyber-nuzzles and sweet E-nothings and he wrote another poem for me (“Is that a rose in your pocket/or a pouch of wild dreams?”).

Boy, I feel like heading out to Los Angeles right now. Wouldn’t you know, he’ll be in Gainesville Christmas week, just at the time I’m planning to move out –  but maybe I’ll see him anyway.

Kevin really seems to like me, and I can relate to him in a way I couldn’t with Terence.

(This evening I wrote a little more in my story inspired by Terence, “The Five Stages of Eating at Cuban-Chinese Restaurants.”)

Alice e-mailed that her mother’s unveiling is tomorrow, and she knows that she’ll be a wreck, just as she was at the funeral.

Her brother, “along with The Wife and his two children,” are in town. She babysat for her niece and nephew and didn’t enjoy it.

Alice is not a person who likes kids, and unlike Teresa, I doubt she’ll ever be close to her niece and nephew. Besides, Alice isn’t speaking to “The Wife.”

Yesterday her brother took his son to see Beauty and the Beast, courtesy of Peter, who’s friends with the guy who plays the Candlestick.

Ellen Levin, mother of the “Preppie Murder” victim Jennifer Levin, may become a client of Alice’s literary agency. Alice met her through June, who lives in the same building at Independence Plaza and who did a story on Mrs. Levin for the Tribeca Trib on the tenth anniversary of the Central Park killing.

When I got to work this morning, Liz asked if we could talk around 3 PM, but then Joann told us there would be a surprise party at that hour to celebrate Tucker’s being named associate director of CGR.

Tomorrow morning I’m signed up for a two-hour faculty workshop on making multimedia presentations at the main campus, so Liz and I will meet in the afternoon.

Both of us got “certificates of appreciation” from Schoolyear 2000 today. How like education people to reward us the way kindergarten teachers use Certificate Maker to motivate five-year-olds. But it’s sweet, I guess.

Speaking of sweet, Russell Lewis finally sent me the tape of my interview on the politics-and- baby-boomers radio show. They lost the original, so he had to reconstruct it.

Russell is leaving WUFT-FM this week to become the statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio. He’s a very talented and intelligent radio journalist.

At home for lunch, I returned a call from the Florida Business Network in Tallahassee, who needed my age and occupation for an election newsletter they’re sending out.

After I ate, I went to the public library to return some tapes and do a little research on Common Ground; I’ve got the second program video back and intend to work on the project over the weekend.

On the way back to work, I stopped at the University Copy Center and made xeroxes of the web pages from George Jr. containing my “E-mail to the Next King of England.” I also copied my acceptance letters from Happy and the Red Hen Press anthology.

Tucker’s wife Joy brought in little Micajah and Kylie and we had a very nice party in Jon’s office. Those twins are so cute, and both Tucker and Joy are great people.

To attend the party, Russ had to take time out from his frantic revision of briefs to the Florida Supreme Court. Tomorrow he and Jon are going to Tallahassee for political meetings regarding Save Our Everglades.

Getting home at 5 PM, I had dinner, but after reading the New York Times, I didn’t have much time to do much else. I got the August Wired but will have to read it another day.

As a Nielsen family this week, I watched only a Seinfeld rerun at 6:30 PM, though at 10 PM I’m planning to watch the documentary series POV on PBS. Tonight’s show is about the supposed transformation of a drag queen to a married man. I’ll believe it if and when I see it.

Saturday, July 13, 1996

9 PM. This morning I answered three ads on the Alternate Matchmaker, and I’ve already met one guy. After speaking to him on the phone for an hour, I went over to this beautiful house in Halle Plantation that he’s watching for his professor.

He’s a grad student in agricultural engineering, getting his M.A. this fall and going on for his Ph.D. His name is Zach, he’s 25 and African American.

But the similarity with Terence is superficial: this guy is a mensch, and he’s very intelligent. He got accepted to Yale but went to UF because they paid for his whole education.

He seems like someone I could talk to for hours, someone whom I could introduce to my friends. However, I don’t think anything will come of it.

Zach is 5’6” and 140 pounds, and although he said he works out a great deal and had a great body, I wasn’t intimidated.

He’s cute, wears glasses and has nice legs, nice hair and a close-cropped beard. There were moments when I was quite attracted to him and moments when I wasn’t.

I’m not sure how he felt about my looks although he said I was “cute.” On the phone, I had told him I was no head-turner. No, I didn’t tell him my real age; I said I was 37.

He said he would like to work in industry or be a professor and wants to leave Florida for New York City or the Bay Area when he graduates.

We talked easily. Like me, he’s an introvert who likes to spend a lot of time alone. Recently he ended a long-distance relationship with a guy in Boynton Beach, and he has a friend here in town whom he occasionally sleeps with.

I’m not sure what I want from a relationship, but I don’t want an LTR (“long-term relationship” in personals lingo) and he doesn’t, either.

He said he’d called me at the end of the week, and I suspect he will – though you never know.

But I’m not crazy about him the way I was when I first met Terence or Noor or Jody, and that probably shows I’m maturing.

This afternoon I went to the Education Library and got out some books that look helpful for the Common Ground project. In fact, there are a couple of role-playing exercises that I can adapt to the subject of the videos.

Last night I fell asleep listening to the tape of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence. I’ve almost finished it; while working out at 4:30 PM, I was on the second side of the final cassette when Zach called.

This morning I did the laundry, grocery shopping, some other chores and then light aerobics.

Robin Hemley e-mailed to say hi and encouraged me to submit to the Bellingham Review this fall because he really likes my work. (“I was telling my wife yesterday about Narcissism and Me.”) Robin just found out he won the Nelson Algren Award and he’s both thrilled and flabbergasted.

When I got home this evening, there was an e-mail from Rochelle Ratner, asking if I’d be interested in reviewing an anthology of gay African-American fiction called Shade.

I’m going to tell her I’ll do it although I think a black reviewer might be better. I’ll do background research and talk to gay black men I know to make sure I’m not screwing up.

In the remaining time I have in Gainesville, I want to do as many different things as I can. Hell, life is always interesting.

“Willie 95” got rejected by the Greensboro Review, but the editor said I had “a great energetic voice,” so I’ll submit again next month when they’re taking new work. It’s instructive to get rejected for stories that have already been accepted elsewhere.

In Emotional Intelligence, Goleman says that the ability to take rejection and go on is an important trait. One day I’d love to get my emotional intelligence level up as high as my IQ.

While I do have empathy for others – I can easily put myself in another person’s place and imagine how they feel – I’m often too impatient with people, and I just hate it when I become enraged over political stuff, like yesterday’s House passage of the anti-gay “Defense of Marriage Act.”

I need to step back when I feel my primitive brain flooding me with rage. Humor has always served me well, and maybe I can find some way to channel my anger by being funny – or at least philosophical rather than shrill.

One reason I feel myself distancing from the Human Rights Council is what Linda Baldwin rightly called “gay activists’ – God love them – single-issue concerns.” But then my whole life I’ve never liked being narrowly pigeonholed.

Zach seems like that, too; he’s got this strong sense of himself. For now, though, I see more as a potential friend than as a potential lover. Pero que será, será.

Tuesday, July 16, 1996

7 PM. Last night Kevin called me collect at 10 PM. I explained to him that I couldn’t get through to his e-mail domain address, and although we tried several times today, we couldn’t figure out how to get it to work.

He said he did get e-mail at work about personal mail but figured that was a general announcement and didn’t pay much attention to it. My feeling is that Warner Bros. doesn’t want him to get personal mail at the office account and may have some way to block it.

I do have the phone number at his desk and was able to call him today. Kevin will be moving to that house with the screenwriter next week; he’ll have a swimming pool there and presumably a phone. At least he can send me e-mail.

He’s a sweet guy, that Kevin.

Early this morning I met with Joann on the Common Ground project, telling her that by next Monday, I’ll get out these materials: a draft teachers’ guide, a draft in-service/pre-service training guide, the final distribution and implementation plan (that’s already taken care of: I’ll just hand in last month’s draft), what I called “supplementary instructional materials,” and draft surveys for teacher and student participants.

All this sounds impossible, but the surveys will be quick, and I’ll only vary the two teachers’ guides a bit. I’ll put together a glossary as well.

After all, these are just first drafts. It will mean a lot of work this weekend, but I can do it – and if it doesn’t get out Monday, it’ll get out Tuesday or at worst by Wednesday.

I wrote the cover letter to WPBT for Jon to sign and we’ll get Laura to make a new invoice.

The office was crazy today, what with the preparation for the trip to Brazil. All those binders of material they’re using for training had to be packed up. Russ did get co-credit with Jon in the end, so I’m happy about that.

I went to the library to help Russ locate something for a brief, and I wrote Jon a memo about what I see as the weaknesses of the third TV program that he says he’ll send on to the producer they’re working with.

At noon, I met Christy for lunch at Ivey’s Grill. Now that I’ve looked at all her art sites on the Web, I’m somewhat impressed, but I still don’t see what the point is. (Obviously, I won’t say this to her, of course.)

Christy spends her life on the Web and she tries to get critics to come to her sites. “I have to trick them,” she says. I don’t know why she expects critics will do for her.

(Are there actually critics of Internet art? Is visual art really what the Internet is about?)

She kept complaining about the lack of attention. I don’t really like it when artists or writers play “Ain’t It Awful.”

Christy is also a bit naïve: She responded to my news of Rochelle asking me to do the ABR review by saying it was “a prestigious assignment,” a characterization I find laughable.

Nevertheless, Christy is very sweet, and she obviously has written some pieces I admire very much.

My teeth started to hurt during lunch. It seemed as though the herbal iced tea made them ache. It could be a root canal problem or just one of those fleeting things.

Tom Whalen finally got e-mail in his office at the University of Stuttgart. He sent me an order form for Roitheimer’s Universe: An Encyclopedia Mouse Novel. The book has an August 15 pub date from Portals Press in New Orleans.

After Tom talked the publisher down to $12 a book (from $14) and to 500 copies (from 1,000 copies), he now has to hustle like crazy to get 150 copies sold via mail order so the publisher can break even.

Anne Gisleson will be in his apartment again this year after Jessica and her husband refused to pay the $100 a month.

Tom plans on being back at NOCCA for the 1997-98 school year, with Anne as his assistant because Brad will be on sabbatical.

After that, he will see: “I’ll have close to DM 100,000 saved, and Annette may want to move back to Germany, where she’ll have a better chance of getting a job. So maybe I’ll retire after a year – or maybe I’ll drive seven years to the new NOCCA and retire at 55.”

Alice e-mailed that Ellen Levin, Jennifer’s mother, seems to trust her and is happy to be Alice’s client. Alice thinks she can get an auction going for Mrs. Levin’s book.

She’s glad that her mother’s unveiling is over and that her brother and his family are out of New York and back in D.C.

Alice says she’s enjoying her extended vacation – she was very burnt-out as a writer – and is trying to get one of those press trips for travel writers she often goes on. She’d like to find a cruise to Alaska.

I came home at 3:45 PM after most of the worst of a thunderstorm had passed. Another rejection of an already-published (twice!) story – “Boniatos Are Not Boring” –  came in the mail.

Tonight I plan to finally get around to finish reading the August issue of Wired.

Friday, July 19, 1996

4:30 PM. I slept a lot last night, and whatever ailment I had or was about to get seems gone now.

I was really disappointed that Zach didn’t call. I figured “the end of the week” meant Thursday because tonight is the weekend.

I thought about Zach last night and wondered if I should have handled my leaving on Saturday differently. From his point of view, I might have left abruptly.

Maybe I should have asked him for his number. Or maybe I should have just grabbed him and kissed him. It would be nice to again be physically close to someone. However, if that had been the end of it, I might feel worse now.

In any case, this is only intellectual speculation. At least now I can stop thinking about Zach.

Today I decided I have to call Micki and tell her I’d take that Wednesday night Argumentative Writing class for Nova after all, even after I found out it meets in Ocala.

It will be a real drag, just like the Business Communications class was, only worse. But I need the money. I’ve got no job prospects after I leave Gainesville, and aware that even my job at CGR may not last until the end of the year, I better take this class since I can make $1,350 in eight weeks.

Somehow I’ll manage. If I don’t have a social life, then I might as well be a workaholic.

In any case, this may end up like my previously-scheduled classes in Ocala, which didn’t run when students punked out before the start of a new module.

Last evening I read most of the new issue of Poets & Writers and started dipping into the Shade anthology, which I’m enjoying.

After getting to work at 9:30 AM, I spent most of the day beefing up the teachers’ guide. The more I get into doing research about the Everglades and Florida’s environmental problems, the more I’m getting into it. I guess after a while, my natural curiosity drives me forward.

I’m having a problem figuring out what to do with the materials for in-service and pre-service teachers. Basically I’ll probably just do a scaled-down version of the teachers’ guide, and if that’s not what the South Florida Water Management District wants, they’ll tell me so.

I still need to do surveys of teacher and student preparation as well create the glossary, but I’ll be in the office all weekend.

Russ said that Save Our Everglades has enough petitions to get on the ballot now, assuming they ever get beyond the courtroom.

The Florida Supreme Court has agreed with Russ’s brief that they should take the case directly from the circuit court. Russ wrote another brief last night, “an amicus brief, almost like an essay.”

Around 3 PM, Robertson took Russ to the airport, so I’ll have our office to myself for a couple of weeks. Next week there’ll hardly be anyone around at CGR.

Russ is flying to Brazil from Miami at 11 PM tonight with Tucker, Pedro and Chris Slobogin.

From my AT&T bill, I see that my four calls from the airplane ride from hell on June 12 cost me $15 each. Already a big chunk of today’s paycheck is spoken for.

Of course, I’m so neurotic that I’ve already made out checks for the month’s remaining credit card bills as well as for the August rent. And I’ve paid off all but $900 of my $4,000 Household Visa credit card; it’s the one with the highest interest rate, 19.8%.

I want to pay down as much as my credit card debt as I can, which is another reason I need to take the second Nova course.

Still, if I hadn’t put $1,000 into that First Deposit Secured Visa (which hasn’t arrived yet), I’d have paid off that Household Visa by now.

Taking the Nova class in Ocala definitely means I’m not going back to New York this summer, but the class ends on October 11, and maybe I can take a week off in the fall. As of today, I have 30 annual leave days and 3½ sick days.

I lugged home the six volumes of the 1993 Florida Statutes and 1994 Supplement that nobody else in the office wanted. Now I can throw out my 1989 volumes.

I found a message from Kyle, the law student/bank employee whose ad I answered. He apologized for not calling earlier and said it had been “a hell of a week.” Frankly I was surprised to hear from him. He said he’d understand if I didn’t call, but I left a message on his machine.

Given my past experiences with guys still in the closet, that was probably a mistake. At this point, it’s hard for me to deal with guys who haven’t fully accepted their sexuality. And for all I know, Kyle could even be married. Fuhgeddaboudit.