A Writer’s Diary Entries From Early October, 1992

Thursday, October 1, 1992

8 PM. It’s October, and it feels like it.

Today was a grey day, and I don’t think the temperature got past 72°. I really should have worn a sweater when I went out this morning.

This evening it felt like a real autumn night up North. But I like the change from our endless summer.

I’ve just been watching the pundits on McNeil/Lehrer try to figure out the effect of Ross Perot’s re-entry into the presidential race with a month to go before the election. My own view is that it’s impossible to tell, especially if he gets into the debates Bush and Clinton are negotiating over now. It should make for an exciting month, however.

Yesterday Mom called to chat. Dad is in St. Pete/Tampa, where he got a decent order from Dillard’s and sold three new specialty stores.

Mom told me that Dad’s customers at the Miami menswear show said the hurricane had actually helped their businesses because it brought people into the area (like the National Guardsman who killed three people at FIU) and forced others to buy clothing to replace destroyed items.

But Mom said Dad’s commission checks are nearly worthless due to the high price of his samples. Ron Davis said Dad will get the Guess line and hinted he’d give Dad more territory.

Miraculously, I slept two nights in a row. That made getting through this week easier.

On campus at 7:30 AM, I reviewed cases until Julin began our class. After Natural Resources, I had an appointment with the financial aid counselor, who got them to mail out my $197 Stafford check and told me my $1,745 SLS loan should go through, too.

In Family Law, Dowd discussed adoption, including the problems of mixed-race adoption and adoptions by gay people.

After class, Kathy, Judy and I talked for a while, and we were joined by Martin and Paul D.

Eventually I made up my mind to go home, but I spotted Marsha studying outside and ended up chatting with her until noon. That’s how an hour passes by.

At home, I did aerobics and spent most of the afternoon reading the freedom of the press cases for Baldwin’s class.

We had a small make-up session in my favorite classroom, the one with the horseshoe configuration where I had Jurisprudence and Law and Psychiatry. The woman who sat next to me today was in the latter class and wanted to know how come I had such good stories like about Billie Boggs or Dr. Shockley.

“I make them up,” I told her. Then I said I graduated from college in New York twenty years ago.

She asked what I did between then and starting law school.

“Vegetated, mostly,” I said.

We had a great class whose 100 minutes flew by. I talked a lot, as did Mike W and Martin, and it was lots of fun. Baldwin was drinking a vodka on the rocks or something and he was in good form.

Judy had to miss the session because of her job as a judge’s clerk, so I tried to take notes for her; she’d forgotten to give Carla her tape recorder as she told me she was going to do.

When class ended, Martin tried to get me to go to a Clinton/Gore meeting to plan for next week’s visit of the candidates on a bus tour, but I declined.

Mike and I went to our respective cars but immediately saw each other in Publix afterward. (Tom B and his girlfriend were there, too.) Mike bought a deli sandwich for his dinner and I got slightly more nutritious fare.

Coming into the Camelot complex, I spotted Carla and her boyfriend going into their apartment on the second floor across from the office.

I feel a lot like I did as an undergraduate twenty years ago, being on a campus and in a community where I know so many people and have an identity.

I watched the news, had dinner, finished the Times and spoke to Pete, who wanted to know if I’d be in Gainesville just before Christmas, as he was thinking of taking a train ride to visit his mother.

I told him I wanted to go out of town before then and that I doubted he could get Christmas reservations on Amtrak for Florida at this late date because they’re probably booked. He said that in that case, then he might take a $200 Courier flight to Caracas instead.

Monday, October 5, 1992

7 PM. I exercised to Body Electric at 6:15 AM soon after I woke up. It’s pledge drive time on the NPR station WUFT-FM, so I didn’t listen to their newscast as much as usual.

At school by 7:30 AM, I was greeted by Martin, who gave me a pass for some special section for tomorrow’s on-campus Clinton/Gore rally.

Martin said he’d talked to Dean Lewis and tried to get our teachers to videotape tomorrow morning’s classes.

The rally is scheduled for 9 AM, so I’d have to miss an hour of Baldwin and two hours of Seigel.

I hate to miss class, and during the day I seriously considered driving to Ocala for the rally that’s taking place at the Livestock Pavilion now.

(The candidates’ bus trip started in Daytona Beach and ended up in Ocala this evening; the campaign will sleep in Gainesville tonight.)

But in the end, I decided it was silly to spend the time and the gas to do that. I’ve missed only one class all the time I’ve been in law school, but I’m so compulsive that I’m half-convinced that if I’m absent once, I may need to be absent a lot more and will end up not getting credit for course. Or I’m afraid I’ll miss the days notes and screw up the final.

Actually, that very attitude is one reason I should play hooky tomorrow.

My obsessiveness has helped me lose weight and keep in shape and write a daily diary for 23 years and publish 170 stories and do well as a student. But I need to be a free spirit for three hours once or twice a year, no?

Besides, I’ve decided it’s too much hassle to take Wednesday off from Santa Fe.

When I told Lynn, Barbara Sloan’s secretary, that I planned not to come in on Yom Kippur, she informed me that I had to find a substitute myself.

Lynn gave me the names of four part-timers who were available at noon on Wednesday, but none of them was in at the time, so I ended up figuring it was just too much trouble to take the day off.

I won’t take Friday off to do my Family Law midterm, either, and when I do need or want a day off at SFCC, I’ll call in sick that day and let them worry about arrangements.

Of course now I have to grade my students’ papers by Wednesday. I did six of them tonight, but if I move faster I can get the others done in in time.

Classes at the law school went well today, but I hated the Evidence quiz. I really do understand the hearsay doctrine, but I need to be able to explain my answers and show how I did my analysis. As it is, I can easily see getting another D+ on this quiz.

As Bob said as we were leaving class, if we’re going to start out on the final with 30% of our grade below C, we’ll be incredibly lucky to get C+’s as a final grade.

The only thing that made me feel better was that David A, who’s on law review, told me he did very badly on the first quiz, too.

Mom just called. She said Grandma sounded young and healthy and in good spirits on the phone on Saturday. Grandma told Mom that I always sent her cards and letters.

Dad had a good trip to St. Pete, where he sold Dillard’s this new Paul Davril line, Humongous, that features oversized multi-colored clothes, hip-hop style, similar to the kind the preteen rap duo Kris Kross wear.

Hopefully Dad will do well when and if the Guess line is his. PDI will mostly hire a new sales force for it, but Ron Davis said he’d give Dad Guess and possibly some new territory to sell it.

Dad didn’t ask although it could only be Alabama, Georgia or Puerto Rico.

Bill is leaving the hospital and going to Villa Maria, the convalescent home. Aunt Sydelle was upset, of course; she has no money because Bill gambled it all away.

Tomorrow Marc moves in with Jeff, a Canadian guy at the flea market. They’ve taken a two-bedroom apartment at the same complex where they lived separately.

Mom is concerned that China will be forced to live with another dog, one twice her size, and figures that China will end up living at her house.

Tomorrow’s rally should be interesting; even Seigel said it’s good for law students to be involved in this.

The last time I saw a Democratic Presidential candidate was in 1976, the last time one won: I met Carter at the Sheraton Centre during the convention and also went to an October rally in Carroll Gardens, where I saw Carter and Moynihan.

In 1972, I went to a late October McGovern rally in Coney Island, and even though I knew he’d lose, it was still exciting. Of course, I was at the 1972 convention in Miami Beach, too.

I hope tomorrow I’ll be seeing the next President.

Tuesday, October 6, 1992

7 PM. It’s Erev Yom Kippur, and I’m glad I don’t have to teach this evening.

This morning I left the house at the usual time, 7:30 AM, but instead of going to the law school, I parked at the indoor lot on the main campus and walked over to where the rally was to take place, north of the Reitz Student Union and south of Weimer Hall, the journalism building.

There were already hundreds of people there before 8 AM. I had the “special guest” pass Martin had given me.

Martin, Doug K, Pauline, Steve F, Shay, Midori, Nick and Carol and a few others from the law school had “invited guest” passes enabling them to sit in the bleachers directly behind the speakers platform.

Still, I was happy to be able to stand up front, just beyond the barrier for the wheelchairs and to the right of the platform near the sign language interpreters; some deaf kids and their teacher stood near us.

I was grateful to have Marsha and Kim as companions during the morning. Like me, Marsha is obsessive about not missing class, so I figured I had done the right thing by coming to the rally.

Former Florida House Speaker Jon Mills canceled his law school classes to emcee the rally.

First, River Phoenix’s band played – they were fine – and he gave a short talk. In person, he’s not quite as cute as he is in the movies although the normal-guy acne made him seem more real.

Albert the alligator, UF’s mascot, played to the crowd as the organizers handed out blue, white and red pompoms and Clinton/Gore Country signs with a map of Florida on them.

We did “the wave,” listened to canned music and heard from two local congressional candidates, State Senator Karin Thurman and State Representative Corrine Brown, who’s sure to become one of the three new black congresspeople from Florida.

The candidates didn’t come out for nearly an hour as the crowd grew to 10,000 or 15,000, a much larger turnout than than expected.

I thought I spotted Ruth Warwick, but Kim said it was only a woman who looked like her – until she took the stage and introduced herself as her All My Children character Phoebe Tyler Wallingford.

Finally, the head of the UF Young Democrats introduced the Gores and Clintons, who came out to thunderous applause, loud cheers, and dynamic music.

Gore spoke first, then Tipper and Hillary made brief remarks, and finally Clinton talked for half an hour.

It was nothing I hadn’t heard before, but I sensed the same kind of excitement people must have felt in 1960 with JFK because, like him, these leaders are of a new generation and seem to see a very different America than Bush and Reagan.

Clinton spoke about health care, including AIDS and breast cancer research. He talked a lot about jobs, of course, and mentioned the right to choose abortion.

And he told us little anecdotes from his travels, using people he met on the campaign, like the elderly couple in Ocala who showed him the photo of their son who died of AIDS.

I know they’re just politicians, not saviors, but I’m excited about a Democratic Presidential candidate in a way I haven’t been since 1976, the last time we won.

Standing about 50 feet away from the Clintons and Gores, I felt impressed with them as people. When Hillary Clinton signed “I love you” to the deaf students standing near me, I felt her to be a warm person.

I applauded a lot and hoisted my Clinton/Gore Country sign at all the big applause lines.

Some Bush guy got into the bleachers, but the others managed to cover up his sign that said, No Pot-Smoking Draft-Dodging Wife-Cheater for President. When he and a few others began to chant, “Four more years,” we drowned them out with “Four more weeks!”

I wish it already was four weeks from now because I worry about something happening that will lead to Bush’s reelection even though at least half the people just have made up their minds not to vote for Bush.

It’s remarkable that Clinton even has a chance to carry Florida at this stage of the campaign.

As the rally ended and the Secret Service agent standing near me dropped his rigid pose to join the candidates as they shook hands with those in the bleachers, Marsha, Kim and I left to go back to law school.

Our feet and backs hurt from standing in one place for so long, but we were glad we got to see a little slice of the 1992 presidential campaign.

The people with the Bush/Quayle signs and those that read Abortion Kills Children looked lost, as if they couldn’t understand how things had changed. Bush isn’t expected to accept President Lombardi’s invitation to speak at UF.

Steve F told me that yesterday was the last day of voter registration, and there were long lines on campus. Steve registered over 100 people at the law school alone, and most were registering as Democrats – quite a change from the 1980s.

But as Steve said, “In the 1980s, law school graduates weren’t working as waitresses and bartenders.”

Back home, I graded all my Santa Fe papers, exercised, read the paper and watched TV.

Last night I spoke to Ronna, who sounded good. She’s getting to go to Israel after Thanksgiving as part of her job with Hadassah. Ronna is a bit scared about the trip, but like me, she really loves the idea of traveling.

Her job at Hadassah seems ideal, and I’m glad she’s finally getting the career recognition she’s deserved all along.

As we hung up, I wished her a good yontif for Yom Kippur.

Marsha – who I didn’t even know is Jewish – said some students are going to break the fast at Seigel’s home tomorrow night.

Wednesday, October 7, 1992

7 PM. In today’s class, Baldwin began the right to remain silent. Apparently, a lot of people were absent from his class yesterday to attend the rally.

In the library at 9 AM, I sat down next to Sharon, who said Seigel taped yesterday’s two-hour class and that we can see the video in the media library. I’ll have to do that this weekend.

In Family Law, Dowd ended our discussion of adoption and began the topic of work and the family.

People talked about the legal profession and the unconscionable number of hours firms expect associates to put in.

The more I hear about the interviews the lemmings flock to, the more I’m relieved I’m not a part of such a fucked-up system.

They can have the big salaries. I’ve got to remember that sometimes being poor is worth it.

My class at SFCC went okay. I was embarrassed at the end of the hour when one of my students said she’s enjoying reading Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog, which she got from the public library.

After class, I schmoozed with Cissy Wood, Barbara Hirschfelder and the other Unit 11 teachers.

Vivian Lee wants me to exchange papers with her, but it has to be in-class writing. So I told her I’ll have a batch of papers for her the week after next.

Next Wednesday at 2 PM is the new time for the English 101 grading session.

Next week will be the most hectic of this term, with a full plate of law classes and Santa Fe and Nova teaching, the Wednesday meeting, and a two-hour Baldwin make-up class on Thursday.

Also, on Tuesday I have a 1:45 PM appointment for a flu shot at the county HRS.

So I need to get a lot of work done this weekend.

Back home, I got a message from Pete, who said he’ll be in Fort Lauderdale for the week of Christmas. At least I’ll get to see one of my New York friends during vacation, and at least this year I’ll be warm during my winter break.

I did aerobics, showered, had a late lunch, did laundry, read oil and gas cases and today’s Times. Now I’m probably going to veg out for an hour with Beverly Hills 90210.

It turned out there were actually about 18,000 people at yesterday’s UF rally. I kidded Pauline about seeing her on the TV news, but she had missed it. Other students said they saw themselves on C-SPAN or CNN.

I got a call from a student reporter at Ohio University, who wanted to know about the Committee for Immediate Nuclear War. I asked her to send me the magazine in which the story will appear, though probably she’ll forget.

I never got to see the Phoenix Gazette article or any other one except the Herald piece, though I saw from a Westlaw search that there were other articles about the Organized Obsessions book mentioning my Committee for Immediate Nuclear War.

It’s really fall here. I wore my jacket until I came home from SFCC, and only one guy sat out by the pool this afternoon.

Of course now that it’s cooler, sitting outside is more inviting than when it was 90°.

Tomorrow I get to work on the Family Law take-home midterm, which I didn’t study at all for.