A Writer’s Diary Entries From Early September, 1992

Tuesday, September 1, 1992

3 PM. Up at 6:10 AM, I began exercising a few minutes later.

I made up with Laura for her to pick me up at the corner of SW 34th Street and SW 2nd Avenue at 7:45 AM, but I probably should have just walked to school because it was cool at that hour.

Several of my classmates honked as they passed by, and during the day, a number of people came up to me to ask what I was doing standing there.

In the hour before Evidence, I went over my notes since the start of the semester two weeks ago, but Seigel told us our quiz would not be till next Tuesday (which follows a Monday schedule).

We finished the topic of relevance with an interminable discussion on the Smith Blue Bus Case. I made the class laugh when I said most jurors would discount the statistic that 80% of the buses on a street belonged to the Blue Bus Company (and that there might be a greater probability that the bus that caused the accident was blue) because my experience was that even if 80% of the buses on a route were blue, if I were waiting for a blue bus, the first three buses that came along would be some other color.

Karin and Shara arranged to meet me at noon after their Income Tax class, so I went to the cafeteria, got a salad bar, and sat down to talk with Allison.

It’s fun to hear how different people’s courses are going. Lori joined us, and like Kathy earlier, she expressed disappointment with the fuzzy nature of Family Law.

Of course, I love getting away from the nuts and bolts of law and enjoy when a course is “soft” (the way Collier’s was).

Lots of people have asked me if I’m trying out for law review or moot court. I guess I’m not very involved at school, but at least today I hung out.

This morning I discovered that Tasha withdrew to transfer to Stetson, where her husband was accepted; I’ve been wondering why I hadn’t seen her.

Larry, Derrick and Steve F tried to help Karin, Shara and me understand our problem for Evidence, as Dean Lewis is way ahead of those of us in Seigel’s class on the subject.

I found the material very difficult to conceptualize, and hearsay is as hard to understand as the Rule Against Perpetuities.

(Seigel made us recite out loud as a class – three times – the definition of hearsay: “an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.”)

We got more and more confused, but at least we batted the ideas around, and anyway, Seigel probably won’t even get to our group tomorrow.

I waited for the (not blue) bus on the bench outside the law school, reading The Docket and chatting with Derrick, who was on his way to buy something at Wilbert’s.

On the bus, two black people were speaking nostalgically about New York City – the Village, the Grand Concourse, free summer concerts at South Street Seaport – and I thought: That’s neat, even in Gainesville there are diehard New Yorkers.

The car repairs cost $230.39 (I had taken out $200 from the ATM at Publix at 7:30 AM), which was all the money I had except for some change. But the car rides okay at least.

When I got home, I ate, watched One Life to Live, discovered I accidentally took home Shara’s Federal Rules of Evidence (I called her roommate and left word) and got a call from Mom, who wanted to find out about the car.

Dad was stung by a bee or wasp on the finger while in the garage today, and he was still in pain, but as Mom and I talked, he rushed out with a fax announcing formally that Paul Davril is now the Guess licensee for tops and other items.

I hope this means Dad’s business picks up, though of course it can’t get any worse.

Mom and Dad got back $60 of their $100 deposit from College Park, which frankly is better than I expected.

Right now, I’ve got to get my clothes out of the dryer. Life’s pace has quickened.

Thursday, September 3, 1992

1 PM. At 4 PM yesterday, I went to an ACLU meeting at school, sitting down next to Lori. (She may be a fanatic about grades, but she’s got a good heart.)

Jeff H, Dawn and Dianne from Section 1 of last fall’s class have been the running the organization with a few others since last year, when they tried to reactivate it. They were pleasantly surprised that about 25 people showed up.

Basically, the campus ACLU hasn’t done too much because we had no funding and few resources, but maybe we can become more active.

By the way, I was pleased – and I know Mom will be thrilled – that Nick Navarro unexpectedly lost the Republican primary for Broward sheriff.

The Times today identified him with the censorship of 2 Live Crew; apparently, the cost of those obscenity trials offended even right-wing voters.

Last night I spoke to Ronna, and she had a hard time coming up with an answer to “What’s new?”

Work, mostly, and while she says she has no social life, I know she’s always seeing friends and going to plays and doing stuff.

Of course, what Ronna means when she says nothing is new is that doesn’t have a boyfriend.

Her mother is arriving today for a visit, and Ronna said that she doesn’t know if Billy is teaching at SFCC this year.

Up at 6 AM, I arrived at school at 7:30 AM to get there when the library opened. Julin was pretty good today, as was Dowd, and the school day flew by.

Friday, September 4, 1992

9 PM. Yesterday afternoon I began to get sharp pains in my head, and then I became dizzier than I’ve been in months.

In the last few weeks, my vertigo had gone away to where I no longer needed to take a Dramamine before I hit my head on the pillow at night, but last night I was very dizzy.

It’s my sinuses, and all day I had a bad headache, but the pills I took seem to be taking effect, and my dizziness has subsided.

My Natural Resources and Family Law classes sped by today, and my SFCC class went fine: I discussed paragraphing and had the students interview one another and then read aloud a paragraph introducing each other.

Like the freewriting on their names, this helps the students get to know one another (and I get to know them), making the class into more of a community.

When I got home at 2 PM (I didn’t keep my entire office hours), I had a message from Micki Johnson at Nova University. She’d only just found the message I left her yesterday.

Micki still didn’t have anyone for the evening classes. I agreed to teach the Argumentative Writing class from 6 PM to 10 PM for the next eight Tuesdays at Gainesville High School.

Micki is FedExing me the text, course outline, and employment application, and I called the local cluster coordinator, Mr. Biggs, who gave me the room assignment.

This will be like my teaching for Touro College at Beach Channel High School in 1980: I’ll be left alone, and I probably won’t have to work hard.

Micki wanted me to teach a Wednesday night class at Central Florida Community College in Ocala, but I thought that would be too much.

Still, I agreed to teach that class as well if she doesn’t find anyone else by Tuesday morning.

Micki said that my MFA is considered a terminal degree and she could probably get me $1,400 a class plus mileage.

Teaching both nights would exhaust me, but I could make enough money so that I could stop feeling poor. Why should I turn down work in such hard times?

The unemployment rate fell slightly, but thousands more jobs were lost in August, and the economic statistics released this week show that we’re in an all but invisible recovery. So we’ll see.

I like the idea of teaching at two new schools, but why I need to put two more colleges on my résumé, I have no idea.

Even with one class, I’ll be tired because it’s hard to combine early morning law school classes with late evening teaching.

This week I felt I had lots of free time, but that’s because Baldwin is gone, and I had three fewer classes.

Well, with Monday as a holiday, this week is a good week to ease into a new job. I really do need money, and the extra income will help.

When I called Fort Lauderdale, telling my parents about the Nova job, Dad explained that no express mail service delivers on weekends, so Micki Johnson’s package won’t get here until Tuesday (because Monday is Labor Day).

However, I’ll be through with law school at 10 AM on Tuesday, so I should have enough time to prepare something for our first class that evening.

Tuesday, September 8, 1992

3 PM. Now that Deutsch has sent my refills, I took a whole Triavil last evening instead of the half-pill I’ve been taking recently. I slept like a baby.

At 8 PM I shut off all the lights and avoided TV and radio, going to the living room to lie on the couch and watch and listen to a heavy thunderstorm.

The couch – under the big window looking out onto a courtyard of other apartments, with people constantly passing by, reminds me of the bed in the front rooms of our bungalows at Lincoln Court in Rockaway.

I guess in North Miami Beach I had a couch under a front window, but that was only next to a second-floor walkway where few people passed.

I like knowing that people are out there. However, I don’t have the architectural vocabulary to say why it’s comforting.

Up at 6:30 AM, I got to campus early and studied Evidence with my classmates. But I don’t think it helped me on our quiz, which required critical thinking skills to examine whether items were relevant or not.

I rushed home so as not to miss the express delivery, but the package from Micki Johnson didn’t come until late afternoon. At least I had a chance to exercise and finish reading the Times.

The course is titled Argumentative Writing for Business, and it’s part of Nova’s 27-month cluster: all the students in their Bachelor of Professional Management program take their classes together as a cohort.

The text, by Annette Rottenberg, uses an approach developed by the philosopher Stephen Toulmin, who based his theory on legal argument.

The premises and conclusion of the syllogism have been replaced by claim, support (evidence), and warrant (how you got from the evidence to the claim). I think Professor Collier knows a lot about Toulmin.

Anyway, the course outline gives reading and writing assignments: four papers (which may all be on one subject, broken down into definition, warrant, claim and support) and a diagnostic essay written tonight.

We have a week off in early October, which means I have to work on Election Night. Well, it’s the last class, so I assume we can get out early.

After looking over their textbook, I’ve gone over the class’s reading for next week. (After law school, their assignments seem minuscule.)

I’ll check out the rest of the instructor’s manual, but I feel that I can at least go into class and not make a fool of myself.

I plan to be honest with them about my lack of preparation; hopefully, they’ll see that I’m intelligent and serious and flexible – that I have ethos, to use a term from the text.


10 PM. I just got home from teaching my Nova class a little while ago. I talked and we discussed the course till 7:45 PM, and then after a break, they wrote a diagnostic essay and the last one handed it in about half an hour ago.

I drove home from Gainesville High School quickly (as opposed to getting there, during rush hour), and came back to my apartment, undressed, laid out tomorrow’s clothes, had Wheatena with milk and banana, and took drugs for my sinus congestion and dizziness.

The first class went okay. They’re all just starting the cluster. Jack Biggs came by to get me started and let me and the class know how he could assist us.

They all had read the first assignment, so they were as prepared as I was – but I was upfront with them about just getting hired and receiving the material this afternoon.

My fourteen students, all working adults except for one unemployed guy, seem like a good group.

Even if I rambled a bit, I think they realize I’m a professional. (I told them obliquely about my experience as a teacher and writer and law student, as it came up.)

Still no word about teaching in Ocala tomorrow. I hope they’ve found someone else, but I doubt it.

Although I’m tired, it may be hard to get to sleep tonight. I’m trying to train myself to get out of bed if I can’t fall asleep in half an hour.

Wednesday, September 9, 1992

4 PM. I’m still concerned that as I write this, Micki Johnson is going to call and tell me I’ve got to go to Ocala this evening to teach.

But I assume she found somebody else for the class. I got a message from her that just asked how the class went, etc., and she didn’t say anything about Ocala. I hope I’m right.

Of course I wouldn’t even know where the class was. I’ve never been to Ocala.

Anyway, I can easily handle one Nova class along with my SFCC section, I think.

As expected, I was tired but too hyper to sleep more than a couple of hours last night.

Knowing I can rest up tonight rather than teach again makes me feel less pressured. After all, I’ve got only seven more evenings at Gainesville High School.

This morning I began reading the paper before Evidence.

When Karin came in, she said that mother, who’s lived with her since the problem with the crazy ex-roommate, had to be admitted to Shands Hospital.

Karin’s mother has a fever, severe back pain and is unable to walk. Karin said the doctors think it’s endocarditis, and of course she’s very worried.

I felt haggard during my two classes, but luckily I didn’t have to move from my front row center seat.

We’re still doing hearsay in Evidence, and Karin, Shara and I aren’t likely to be called on till next week.

Seigel said he’s not sure if the quiz is a good idea, but he’ll grade the papers and let us know.

In Family Law, Dowd and McCulloch showed a video of four battered wives who told their stories: each ended up killing her husband. We had only a short time to discuss domestic violence afterward.

There’s one time I hit someone. Shelli and I were having dinner at Mark and Consuelo’s, and the whole time I seethed inwardly because I felt she was ridiculing and belittling me.

When we left the Savages’ apartment at the Junction, we argued, and I hit her in the back. I think she took a cab home, and later we kept hanging up on one another.

I’m ashamed of what I did, but I think that Shelli probably doesn’t remember it, and I never slapped or pushed or hit anyone else I was seeing.

It’s no excuse, but I was 20 years old and very screwed up.

I arrived at Santa Fe early to prepare for class. On the way to teach, I saw this bare-chested guy talking to a girl, and I realized it was A.J., the unit aide I’ve got a crush on.

He’s got a cute body and he’s sexy in a sleazy, bad boy, Prince-type way. God knows why I find myself attracted to him because he’s not spectacular.

Anyway, it’s only a crush, not reality.

I’m not sure how many of my students read the Donald Murray essay on revision that we went over today. A lot of them are attending only sporadically already, and that frustrates me.

On Friday they’ll write in class; I handed out the topics so they can do the preliminary work at home.

By 1:15 PM, I was home. After lunch, I lay down and closed my eyes, relaxing and listening to TV. Then, after a sweaty aerobic workout, I took a shower and spoke to Mom.

Yesterday she called, upset that a collection agent for this shirt manufacturer whom she owes $300 told her that she’s going to get a subpoena and that Mom will need a lawyer.

I explained what would happen if they sued her and she didn’t appear: they’d get a judgment against her. (The debt is in her name, not that of the business.)

Mom got agitated and then said that Marc told her he’d write out a $150 credit card check but there won’t be any more money they could pay.

So I told her to call the manufacturer, a Korean guy, and offer to send him half the money as payment of the whole debt: a satisfaction and accord, as I learned in Contracts.

A little while later, Mom called me back, surprised at how agreeable the man was. I instructed her to write on the check that it was in full payment of the debt due.

It’s nice to have some legal background to help out Mom.

Well, it’s 4:45 PM and nobody called about the Ocala class. It’s a good thing, too, because we’re having another heavy downpour.

I got a dean’s list certificate for the spring term, but my 3.16 GPA for that semester still seems feeble to me.

Thursday, September 10, 1992

7 PM. Although I’ve been home since late morning and I lay down to rest for a couple of hours, I still feel tired.

The good thing is I’ve had the time to goof off and relax. Last night I watched Beverly Hills 90210 and didn’t worry about doing work. I also read the last couple of days’ reports on the campaign via The Hotline on Lexis.

Thursdays are now my easy day, and I had only my Natural Resources class at 8 AM and Family Law at 10 AM, both of which were interesting – though it’s radically different to hear a lecture about why mineral rights aren’t affected by the Rule Against Perpetuities and then to hear an emotional discussion on why wives who are beaten don’t leave their husbands.

In between classes, I could have done work, but instead I socialized, chatting with Donna and Shara. They’re in that interview scene, constantly checking the boards at the Career Services office to see if their résumés got them selected for an on-campus interview.

I saw David W in a suit again today, so he must be doing well in the interview department. And Dwight told me he got an interview with a Tallahassee firm that specializes in his field, environmental law.

Even if I were interested in a corporate job, I don’t plan to stay in Florida, and out-of-state firms don’t interview at our school.

Barbara Goldsmith told me more about Nova University after I thanked her for turning me on to the job.

On Saturdays she teaches two sections of a class in American Civilization using Habits of the Heart; in Fort Lauderdale, I recall, Eleanor McCluskey taught the same course.

Barbara agreed with me that it seemed as if the person who wrote the course outline for Argumentative Writing for Business never read the entire text.

An odd event happened in Family Law: A delivery man entered, carrying a huge vase of red roses, and said, “Excuse me, but I was told to deliver this to so-and-so here at this hour.” It was for some woman in the back row.

Very weird, especially during a discussion of domestic violence.

After class, Aimee and I agreed that whoever sent it is a jerk, embarrassing the recipient and disrupting our class.

Dowd handled the situation well, and perhaps I’m a sourpuss, but I’m suspicious of extravagantly public gestures like that.

Home at 11:30 AM after getting a roll of quarters at the bank, I did one load of laundry. The $1.75 I used for the washer and dryer was the only money I’ve shelled out since Monday.

Pete called to ask my advice about buying a modem. Later, he suggested I call Harold to find out about a low-cost computer network I can get on.

I exercised to two Body Electric videos because I won’t get a chance to work out tomorrow. My Santa Fe students are writing in class, but there’s that grading session for English teachers from 3 PM to 5 PM, making the day a long one.

I plan to go home after class rather than keep my office hours and then show up again for the meeting. Why should I stay six hours at SFCC when I’m being paid for one?

I didn’t yet read the material for the grading session. The only work I did this afternoon was to read four oil and gas cases.

UPS delivered my 1993 diary, which I ordered recently; I haven’t opened it yet.

Although I’d like to go to New York City for Christmas, it’s more practical to go to South Florida and save New York for spring break.

I see that every spring the law school sends five students as exchange students to Leiden, Holland.

I assume you have to come up with your expenses yourself. It would be a great opportunity if I could do it in 1994, but where would I get the money?

I better make sure I get a lot of work done – including marking papers – this weekend.