A Writer’s Diary Entries From Early February, 1992

Monday, February 3, 1992

8 PM. As I should have expected, many of my classmates had even more problems getting their papers done on time than I did.

Attendance was off in Con Law and even worse in Contracts, when people apparently went home to complete that papers and hand them in by the noon deadline.

This afternoon, Donna told me she was disgusted with herself because she missed both classes, “did a lousy job” on the paper, and handed it in late to Harris, our TA.

I told her not to worry about it, that they didn’t expect anything more than a rough first draft.

After reading the paper last night, I fell asleep at 9:30 PM, awakening eight hours later to exercise and get off to school early.

Although there was gook in my left eye, I wore my lenses anyway. Probably that was a mistake, for they itched and my vision was a bit blurry.

When I go to the optometrist on Saturday, he may have to give me a different kind of lenses or perhaps I’m not reacting well to the chemical disinfectant and should return to heat.

Baldwin was his usual self today, but Jason (who petitioned to get in from the other section) did well under Baldwin’s barrage of questions. I haven’t yet done all the reading for tomorrow – on the Commerce Clause and state regulation – but I’ve got only five pages to go.

After handing in my paper at the Legal Research and Writing office, I read Contracts – but today’s main case, with an opinion by Posner and dissent by Easterbrook was so complex that I didn’t understand it.

Nor (as I expected) did many others, most of whom were reading it the same time I was. Davis won’t really finish the case until tomorrow, and I’ll have time before class to catch up.

During my lunch break, I did manage to do the Torts reading on defenses to intentional harms for both today’s class and tomorrow’s.

I managed to get over to NCNB (the Florida bank still hasn’t changed its name to NationsBank pending the merger with C&S), where I deposited my unemployment check and got my usual roll of quarters for newspaper and soda vending machines.

I was driving back to school when suddenly, after six months in Gainesville, I noticed that there aren’t canals here like in South Florida. How did I not notice that before? Law school, I guess.

After Torts, Karin said she was going to sign a lease on an apartment near the Oaks Mall.

I came home and read Con Law and the New York Times, listened to the NPR news and had dinner.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel less rushed.

Tuesday, February 4, 1992

7 PM. I keep thinking that finally I’m going to have the time to push ahead with my work. But by early evening – like now, when I’ve wound down from dinner, the news and the day at school – I’m too tired to concentrate. I need to make sure that I get my casebook and hornbook reading done during the day.

Last night I slept seven hours, which should be enough since I slept soundly, and I came home at 5 PM with good intentions but fatigue got the better of me.

I did read some in the Con Law hornbook early this morning, before our in-class continuing look at state regulatory power versus the Commerce Clause.

During the break, I read Contracts so I’d be up to date, and we did begin a section interesting to me, on the interpretations of the words of the contract.

I rushed home to exercise to the 11:30 AM Homestretch; after lunch I read some more.

Yesterday, like today, turned springlike by 1 PM, and I went back to school early, intending to do reading.

Yesterday I did the same thing but instead I sat down next to Donna and we chatted for a while and then Rudy, Laura C and Bob C joined us.

And this afternoon, I probably should have gone indoors to study, but I sat at a table outside although I made sure not to go over to anyone and chat.

But there were no empty tables, so David A asked if he could sit down with me and eat his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I said of course and kidded him about his poor diet – but actually David’s in great shape. (David is also one of the few people I’ve ever known who has my color eyes: bluish-green with a gold ring around the pupil.)

Then Dan N came over, and I have to admit I greatly enjoyed talking with both of them instead of studying. I do need to socialize.

I hadn’t realized before today that Dan is from Orange Park, between here and Jacksonville, and that David left a Ph.D. program in economics at Duke after coming back East from California.

My fellow students are all nice people, and I’ve been trying to get to know some of them I didn’t talk with much before.

In Contracts, Angelina (who knows everybody) passed around a sheet about a barbecue on Saturday afternoon at the farm where Kim lives with her family.

Karin wondered when people like Angelina, Kim and Marsha have time to organize these social events, but I think it’s time I spent a little more time away from the law school myself.

Sometimes I feel uncomfortable, at least a bit, with my classmates because most are 15 to 18 years younger than I. But I guess that’s my problem, not theirs.

The Docket, the JMBA newsletter that comes out on Tuesdays, has expanded and improved. They’re even having a short story writing contest, but of course it would be unfair of me to enter.

(Probably I wouldn’t win anyway, but then again, where would I get the time to write fiction?)

There were some interesting articles in the paper, opinion pieces by students decrying the apathy about social issues and the concern with money and career that most UF law students have.

I wonder if things were a lot different twenty years ago. Probably – but I don’t think it’s as bad now as it was during the height of the Reagan ’80s. At least some students are a little social-minded.

And if my classmates are conservative, well, I haven’t heard anyone but Doug G praising Bush (and that was last October, when Doug told me the recession was over).

After Torts let out, I went to the public library to return my books, tapes and videos and borrow some more.

Mom just called. Dad’s business is so bad that he owes the company $900 from December – and supposedly he is Introspect’s best salesman.

Because their line is not in any department stores except Dillard’s and their new line won’t be shipped till April, Dad won’t have any income until about June. So for now, he and Mom are forced to live on their savings.

Plus he has to make a trip to Los Angeles soon, and a month later, go to the Magic menswear show in Las Vegas. While he’s there, he plans to ask around for another line.

Dad’s friend Barrett in Texas and the guy in Ohio are also doing no business, and a salesman from New York City called to ask Dad for advice: the guy’s made no sales but has been getting a draw and now owes the company $26,000. He will probably have to go bankrupt.

At the flea market, they are hurting not only because of the economy but from competition by Sawgrass Mills and some new flea markets.

To offset the poor sales at the Swap Shop, Marc and Mom are talking about trying to sell more of their wingtip tuxedo shirts directly to hotels and restaurants. They already do a big business with waiters who need those kind of shirts.

Mom said she wished Cuomo would run for President.

Two weeks from tonight, the New Hampshire primary results will be in. If Clinton wins big, it’s hard to see how he can be stopped, given that Harkin, Tsongas and Kerrey aren’t really competitive in the South.

On the other hand, if one of the other three wins, it’s still hard for me to see how that candidate could get the nomination.

Unfortunately, Bill Clinton is the Democrats’ only “top-tier” candidate. He’s gotten more name recognition out of the tabloid infidelity story, and it doesn’t seem to have damaged him, but I don’t know.

Today Congress passed extended unemployment benefits.

Wednesday, February 5, 1992

7 PM. I fell asleep about 9:30 PM last night after listening to a videotape I got from the library of Bill Moyers interviewing Justice O’Connor. I slept very well but was up at 6 AM.

Yesterday Dan N told me he missed Con Law and Contracts because he slept till 10:30 AM, “but it was worth it, after staying up the night before” to do his Appellate Advocacy paper.

Law students must be among the most sleep-deprived people in the country. Every time I look at Doug G in class, he’s either about to fall asleep or has stirred himself awake.

I wish we had more time to study the material in greater depth, as I think it would make for a more effective education.

Having the afternoon off, I was able to spend three hours reading Civ Pro cases on personal jurisdiction. I went through four cases as a group, leisurely able to make better connections between them to see the evolution in thinking.

I also read section of Emanuel’s dealing with the subject, but I was unable to get to the Civ Pro hornbook or to Property.

Still, I’ve now covered Civ Pro till next Friday.

It was pouring when I woke up this morning, but at least the temperatures were mild, and the rain let up by the time I got to school.

The C-10 tutorial list for this term was posted on the bulletin board. I’ve signed up for Con Law and Property, the only ones they are giving for second-term students.

I am probably going to volunteer to tutor the first-term students who have Collier for Jurisprudence; there’s nobody on the list as tutor, and the people who did it last term, Gena told me, didn’t have Collier.

This will be the price I need to pay for booking the class.

Derrick is teaching the Criminal Law tutorial for Allen (even though Section 1 had Seigel last term), so I do know they let second-semester students tutor.

Nobody was in the C-10 office when I went there (twice), so tomorrow I’ll leave a note or telephone the C-10 tutorial committee.

Today’s classes went fine. Before Contracts, I read ahead a little and chatted with Mike W.

I notice that Rob, who sits next to me in Contracts, was away from class yesterday afternoon, so in Con Law today, I said I hoped he wasn’t sick.

No, Rob said, he just went to Tampa to see Harry Connick Jr., who he likes. I can see the attraction for him.

Rob is probably the best dresser of the guys in our class and has a great fashion sense. It’s hard for me not to stare at him sometimes when something incomprehensible is being talked about, but I always get these silly crushes on young straight guys.

(Rob, like Paul, is a Christian, and I’m sure he would be the last person to be gay.)

Karin moved into her new apartment, and her father is bringing furniture from Orlando tomorrow.

When I left school at 11:30 AM, the sun was shining. After picking up some stuff at Mother Earth, Eckerd Drugs and TCBY on NW 13th Street, I came home, where I ate, read and took time out for aerobics.

Somehow I hurt my neck. Why is neck pain unlike any other?

Tomorrow will be a longer day or at least a busier one; I’ve asked Cheryl out to lunch.

The compulsive part of me regrets the change of routine and the time spent away from school or home, but the adventurous, social part of me wants to remember what it’s like to go out to lunch, the way I did over Christmas with Ronna, Justin and Mikey in New York.

If anything, this term is going faster than last term did.

Hey, I’m sickened by the U.S. forcibly repatriating the boat people who’ve escaped Haiti since the coup.

It was bad enough we detained them at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the same country from which we welcome refugees because they’re fleeing communism. Does it really matter now that the Cold War is over? Let’s let the Haitians in, too.

Well, I thought I’d get more work done today, but there’s always tomorrow. Besides, I need to spend time doing something other than studying.

Saturday, February 8, 1992

7:30 PM. I got home half an hour ago and had my dinner.

Today I didn’t leave the apartment till just before my eye doctor appointment at 3 PM. The doctor examined me and said things look okay, but I should come back in a couple of weeks.

Then I used the map to Kim’s house and followed it, driving on Newberry Road way past I-75 – much further west in Alachua County than I’ve ever been – and then down Route 241 to the dirt road that led to Kim’s family’s farm.

Angelina, Kim and Marsha had placed signs telling us where to turn in and park and walk (and to beware of the cowpies).

The farm is an amazing spread. Pam, Kim’s mother, bought the land in 1972 but didn’t move in till a dozen years had passed. Every fence post was put in by the family, and the farm is a culmination of a decade of hard work.

They have goats (which were friendly and mostly pregnant), cattle, chicken and horses as well as a collie and two Airedales which licked me.

(Two days ago I strongly felt I needed to be licked by a dog and I wanted to play with kids. Today I did both.)

There was a huge barbecue, with hamburgers and franks on the grill, and plenty of the usual fixings and snacks and desserts and beer.

I didn’t consume anything except the bottled water I’d brought, but of course I didn’t come there for the food.

It was great to be out in the country and to smell the air, reminiscent of the air at the rural artists’ colonies where I’ve stayed.

It was a pleasure to be with people outside of school, to meet their spouses and kids and talk about something other than being law students.

Plenty of people came, maybe 50 of the 180 students in our two sections. By this time I can recognize some of the cliques or groups, including people from the other section I don’t know.

Of course Kim and Angelina’s crowd was there – Richard A, Lori, Dwight – and Dan N and Darin and Jim and Kevin M, who I talked to for the first time today.

Dan M introduced me to his wife, who’s a speech therapist in the public schools – she misses Tampa, she said – and his daughter Chelsea, with whom I played a patient “game” of badminton.

I like playing with kids, and when we were joined by Jim’s 2½-year-old son Leif, I liked it even more.

Professor Davis had brought his daughters, but the only other teacher there was Seigel.

Ken K and I went out to see the calf born four days ago for which they had a name-the-calf contest. The little animal, lying near its mother, who stood nearby with a wary eye on us, seemed fresh and new.

Pam said they’re almost self-sufficient on the farm: they have their own beef, milk, butter, cheese, chicken and eggs.

I heard several people remark that it was a nice place to get away for a day but that they couldn’t live in such a rural environment. I agree.

Barry and Paula were there, and Kenny H was playing volleyball, and Justin brought his girlfriend. I spoke to some people in the other section – David B, Laurie, and Chris P – that I had not known before. Bob C brought his wife Birgit, who’s German, and their daughter Anna.

It was nice to find out that Laura V is a 90210 fanatic and that Lee likes fireplaces and that Darin can’t stand the cold (it was chilly today): to see that they’re people, not just fellow law students. (That sounds banal.)

Others there were Donna, Jonathan, Dee, E.K., Nick, Ann and her daughter, and Erica, whose name I finally remember. It was a nice group, and I’m glad I went.

This morning I read the first three chapters of Rehnquist’s book on the Supreme Court, dealing with his coming to D.C. in 1952 to be Justice Jackson’s law clerk and how the Steel Seizure case came about.

We’ll be taking that case up first in Con Law when we start on presidential power.

I also read some Contracts, including a case dealing with Ballantine Beer – which, as I told Davis, made me nostalgic: I can hear Mel Allen, the Yankees announcer, saying “. . .ask the man for Ballantine.” Studying law can be almost pure joy sometimes, an intellectual feast.

Tomorrow I’ve got all the App Ad stuff to do, but I hope to get through my reading for Monday and Tuesday at least.

When I called Jonathan to wish him a happy birthday on Monday, he said that Dad had left for L.A. this morning.

Tuesday, February 11, 1992

8 PM. I slept fitfully last night. At one point I awoke from an unpleasant dream in which I was in bed and dizzy with a stuffed head to discover that I was in bed and very dizzy because my sinuses were so clogged.

They still are, and I’ve been taking decongestant, using nasal spray (once) and even pressing the bridge of my nose to free myself to sneeze.

At least I can see that my vertigo is closely related to my sinusitis.

When I tried to exercise, I couldn’t lie on my back without vertigo sweeping over me, and I’ll probably have a hard time when I put my head on the pillow tonight. If I’m too dizzy to sleep, I’ll try to use my time well and read or study.

I wasn’t so lucky as to be called on in Con Law to discuss the Steel Seizure case, but from reading the Rehnquist memoir, I was the only one who could answer four of Baldwin’s fact questions about the case.

Dan R did a good job, but he couldn’t possibly know what I know without lots of outside reading.

Using Nexis for the post-1980 Supreme Court cases seems to be a strategy that pays off because newspaper articles give helpful background information.

Luckily, my head started to open up in Contracts, where Davis called on me for Bloor v. Falstaff Brewing because on Saturday I told him reading it made me nostalgic for Ballantine Beer commercials.

I started off by referring to last week’s Fragilament case and said, “Here, Judge Friendly turns from chicken to beer,” and I did okay, though I wish I was quicker on the uptake.

At 11:30 AM we had a C-10 Con Law tutorial. Dara, the tutor, gave us a little background on Baldwin’s odd ways. After admitting that as a law professor, he’s a “character,” she said not to be intimidated by him.

She told us to buy Emanuel’s and Legalines, but I feel I’ve been doing okay without them. I enjoy studying Con Law and I’m happy to do extra work for the course; the problem is that I have only so much time.

Dara said Baldwin is more fact-oriented then most professors and isn’t so interested in rules or tests. He often bases exam questions on cases in the Supreme Court pipeline, and I figure my daily reading of the Times can help me there.

At 1:50 PM, we met by the Cheerios sculpture with the three guys who are doing Julin’s Property C-10.

After telling us that Emanuel’s is a must, they explained that Julin goes very slow the first semester and that he’s very easy-going (as if we didn’t know).

“He would be down-to-earth,” one of them said, “except he’s often on a different plane.”

Torts bored me today as we began product liability. Probably I was just tired, but Dowd seemed to be less crystal-clear than usual.

I’m in the group to do next week’s hypo, so I’ve got to read ahead to the next section of cases before we meet on Friday morning. Rebecca and Kenny H said we should make our hypo less complex than the ones we’ve been getting.

I got my App Ad paper back and I have to meet with Harris at 2 PM tomorrow. In the meantime, I took his suggestion and updated the court cases on “fighting words.”

Coming home at 5 PM after doing some grocery shopping, I listened to All Things Considered and read the paper.

As expected, Harkins was basically unopposed in the Iowa caucuses. A week from tonight, the New Hampshire results will be in. I hope Tsongas wins to keep the race open, but I’d love to see a big write-in vote for Cuomo.

I’m busy but enjoying being busy.