A Writer’s Diary Entries From Late February, 1994

Tuesday, February 22, 1994

8 PM. I again feel I have more to do than I can possibly accomplish. It’s no wonder I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.

Actually, I slept deeply last night and had nourishing dreams.

Last evening I spoke to Ronna briefly; Jane was over, so I didn’t want to interrupt. We confirmed that I can come the week of April 25, when the reunion will be held.

Leah is working for her brother in Westchester and she may be out of the apartment by then. Leah’s currently living at her parents while they’re in Florida and just coming back to the apartment on weekends.

Ronna said she’ll be happy to live alone now that she thinks she can afford it: “I want to redo the kitchen and finally have a living room.” Now she doesn’t want me or anyone else as a roommate except for visits.

Good news: Ronna is dating again.

“It must be nice to have a social life,” I said. “Maybe I’ll have time to have one someday.”

The cat hasn’t returned since it ran out of here when I opened the door on Saturday afternoon.

When I’ve come back from school in the evening, I’ve seen it on the porch of the Dutch students, lying next to its supper dish. It looks at me as if I were a stranger.

The independence of cats is something I could learn from. Or am I already like a cat, fearing to get too close to anyone?

Anyway, I was in a cheerful mood as I walked to school this morning in a T-shirt and shorts because it was about 65° even at 9:30 AM.

In Advanced Legal Research, Rosalie was really confused and confusing today. Like me, a lot of students had trouble with that long assignment.

She had me and Dionne give back the papers, and this guy Paul L, who’s also in Hunt’s class, was surprised I knew his name. But I know all my classmates’ names, and I make it a point of pride to be friendly to everyone.

Paul smiles at me a lot, but I can tell he’s not gay, just friendly. He dresses interestingly, sort of artsy for law school.

I left class with Mindy, both of us feeling as if we didn’t know what we just heard about the CFR and the Federal Register.

Together we went to Dowd’s class, to the concreteness of our small groups and agenda-setting on the issues of pornography and prostitution.

After lunch, I began to read the Times, but I didn’t get that far when I decided to go out to the pool to get the mail.

“Hi, Rich,” said Rhoda, the secretary from SFCC, who was in the pool.

She likes Camelot and we talked for a while as I waited for the mailman to finish sorting.

Rhoda said the adjuncts at SFCC “must have to love teaching because they work so hard for so little.”

I had a lot of mail. The editor of The Humorous Vein said he’s been forced to change the format to a newsletter. Do I mind? No, because the Davie candidacy article is an old one.

I got that Assembling-type compilation from the press in Long Island, and at first it looked so crappy (it wasn’t bound, just placed in a folder), I disgustedly tossed it aside.

But later I went through it, and the stuff is pretty neat: the contributors did interesting things with colored paper and design and photos, etc. It’s every bit as good as the old Assembling, and my collage of articles about my Presidential candidacy – one I made in 1985 when I was staying in Park Slope – looks good and was funny.

The new issue of Poets Writers came, so I’ll have to go through it, not only for articles, but for places to submit to.

Cape Cod Community College acknowledged my application, and I got another application to fill out. As of tonight I have five community colleges job packets to get to, with the earliest deadline March 11.

In the Chronicle ads tonight, I found several more schools, and I called three different ones in the Kern Community College District in California (at three different area codes) for applications.

I’ve almost finished the patent section of our Intellectual Property text.

Today Dr. Susan Ray, the head of UF’s Technology and Licensing Office, was our guest speaker. She had a science background (she was a dentist) before attending law school in D.C., and she worked in the government before moving to a boutique law firm and then coming to UF.

We’re about eighth in the country as far as universities getting money from licenses and patents, with one-third of the money coming from Gatorade royalties.

The settlement of the Gatorade dispute led UF to move ahead forcefully on licensing, and now there’s a big push with business/academic partnerships and “strategic research” instead of the old pure “basic research.”

When I signed on tonight, I had an E-mail message from Patrick, who says nothing much has changed at Broward Community College.

He’s working on his Ed.D. at Nova and still advising P’an Ku, editing the union newsletter and publishing The Cathartic. I E-mailed him back a short reply.

Thursday, February 24, 1994

7 PM. I’m not feeling that well tonight. My stomach is messed up, and I also feel as though I’m coming down with a cold although I just had one.

Perhaps I’ve got some kind of virus. I feel weak and queasy in my throat is sore. Of course I could just be very tired.

Thursdays are long, hectic days, and today was especially long.

It rained very hard all night in a downpour that was still going on when I woke up at 6:30 AM.

When it stopped at 9 AM, I figured I’d take advantage of the break in the weather and walked to school.

The cat did come in this morning although I didn’t hear the door at first. When I came home for lunch, she was snuggled up by my shoes, and when I returned home from my last class at 5:30 PM, she was waiting by the door for a quick exit.

In the library this morning, I read the Times before going to Legal Research, where Rosalie gave us back our homework and went over it as she reviewed our look at primary sources: cases, statutes, rules and regulations, etc.

It’s still hard for us to keep all these reference books straight, and I can tell Rosalie is frustrated that we still don’t know exactly where to go right away.

In Women and the Law, since nobody else volunteered to begin our discussion on the MacKinnon/Dworkin model pornography ordinance, I raised my hand and said how I was against it but admitted that I came from a First Amendment absolutist point of view.

Dowd and other students peppered me with questions, and I enjoyed the debate that I had stimulated. While I talk a great deal in class, I know my contributions are almost always valuable.

By the time I walked home, it had turned cooler. I got a message from the Omni bookstore that the book I had ordered, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika, had come in.

God knows how, but I’ll make time to read it. I still have to read The Glass Menagerie for Saturday’s class, but I doubt we’ll get to it because I plan to show the video of Suddenly, Last Summer.

When I’m at SFCC tomorrow to see Iris, maybe I can find a video of The Glass Menagerie and I can show that instead.

Anyway, if I show my class my copy of the Kushner play, they’ll see that at least some people actually do read drama.

After lunch, I went to pick up the book and a few items at Publix.

There was only one letter in my mailbox, but it was a good one. This: A Serial Review will publish “Rules of Civil Procedure” in their premiere issue scheduled for May. From the looks of the stationery, it’s going to be a classy magazine.

The story had already been accepted by Mississippi Mud in the summer of 1992, but Joel Weinstein didn’t respond to a query I sent him last fall.

This is the first good news I’ve had about my writing career in a while. At least I can look forward to a new (and pretty good, I think) story being published.

In an upbeat mood, I went to see Hunt and show him my problem with the copyrights to me and to Richard Grindal writing under my name.

He wasn’t at all surprised to see that I was an author – or he pretended not to be – but instead he took a lawyerly point of view and looked through the IP practitioners’ guide, suggesting I look at state unfair competition law.

In the hallway on my way out, I saw Mashburn but decided not to say anything about my “Rules of Civil Procedure” story, as I doubt she would care.

I went to the library to look at the legal encyclopedias that our next Legal Research assignment is based on, and I chatted with Paul L, who seems to work very hard.

Professor Dlamini lectured on arguments for and against the Bill of Rights in the new South African constitution. Although he’s interesting, he talks too fast, and again he kept us way over the time, as if he were unable to stop talking.

I was bored in Intellectual Property as we finished patents. The doctrine of equivalencies and prosecution history estoppel shouldn’t be as hard to understand as I found them today.

However, in the last fifteen minutes, we began copyright, the part of the course that I’m really interested in.

Home at 5:30 PM, I had dinner and I’m still trying to unwind. Luckily, there’s no school work I need to do tonight. I’ll just read the paper and watch The Simpsons and try to relax a little and get to bed early.

Friday, February 25, 1994

8 PM. Sleeping nine and a half hours last night signaled to me that I was feeling exhausted rather than ill.

I had a lot of pleasant dreams that took place on Miami Beach, and Grandma Sylvia was in one of them.

When I turned on the radio this morning, I heard the news about a massacre of Palestinians at their morning prayers at the holy mosque in Hebron (where Abraham and Sarah are supposed to be buried).

A Jewish settler from the area, Dr. Baruch Goldstein – naturally, he’s one of those fanatics from America, a Brooklynite and follower of Kahane – opened fire as the Muslims prayed. He killed about fifty of them, injuring over a hundred.

Disgusting. The Jewish nuts among the settlers should be disarmed by the Israeli government.

This will probably kill the peace negotiations – which is what this fanatic wanted. I’m glad he was beaten to death by survivors of the massacre.

It was a chilly morning. After eating my usual breakfast – today I had Wheatena, blue corn flakes add multigrain cereal with skim milk and a banana – I let the cat in, read and exercised lightly.

The cat’s favorite place now seems to be nestled among my shoes.

While walking to school this afternoon, I passed shirtless cyclists and runners with incredible bodies. Now I’m more accepting of the fact that if I didn’t look that good when I was their age – 15 or 20 or 25 years ago – I’m certainly not going to look like that at 43.

I try to keep healthy, and I’m still younger and mind and body than most guys my age – though I’m not often around guys my age, so I’m not quite sure.

I took the bus to the SFCC main campus, and before I went to see Iris, I found a video of The Glass Menagerie at the AV office and looked through issues of College English and College Composition in the library.

Iris and I chatted breezily, and she said I seemed to be happy as an academic; from the way she sounded, it was a rare attitude.

“It’s because it’s not my main thing; I have another life,” I said.

Later, I thought: Why am I spending time, energy and money applying for these teaching jobs at community colleges when I know I don’t want to be loaded down with papers to grade?

Well, I guess part of it is that I know that a job in California, say, will at least get me to California, and after a year or two, I can be there and find something else to do, whether it’s practicing law or whatever.

I had three minutes from the time I left Iris’s office to catch the bus, and I ran across the SFCC campus and just made it. (The next bus wasn’t coming for another 45 minutes.)

Despite all my walking, I need to do more aerobic activity; the long run left me breathless for five minutes.

After I had lunch and started doing a little work, Mom called. Steven’s funeral was yesterday, and over 200 people attended.

Mom was impressed that they closed Steven’s department at the Pompano Circuit City so that his co-workers (“even the cleaning lady”) could go to the services at the gravesite.

“Everybody loved Steven,” Mom said.

Alan, Bruce and other friends and relatives traveled from New York and New Jersey, and Marc’s friends came over to Mom’s house last night. (“It was like The Big Chill,” Mom said.)

She’s still not sure how Steven died. When he went into the hospital the day before, Steven joked with his doctor, ”I’m not going to die,” and the doctor said no, what he had wasn’t life-threatening. But somehow he died.

Mom asked me what the difference between ileitis add Crohn’s disease was and seemed surprised that I didn’t know.

I asked about Marc, and Mom told me the doctor gave him samples of Paxil and Zoloft to take. They’re cousins of Prozac, and Mom said Marc already feels better.

Clarissa has a real problem, though, because they won’t admit her to Jackson Memorial, where the doctor she wants can perform the brain surgery, unless she first puts up $40,000 that she doesn’t have.

On the way to school, I picked up the mail.

“COUGH! W/12 SYMPTOM AND AIDS OR HIV” was rejected by The James White Review, and the editor’s comments were apt. The story doesn’t really work in a way satisfying to even me. I need to file it away and hope I can revise the material.

While I want to get published again, there’s no point in doing what I did 18 years ago and getting unsuccessful stories published in little magazines.

Of course, yesterday’s acceptance of “Rules” makes me feel a lot better about my writing ability, and so I can accept the editor’s judgment with equanimity.

Dowd give me another A on my last paper, so now I’ve got 40% of my final grade: three A’s and a B+.

Before our next class, Rachel told me she felt terrible. She’d been up all night, but that was because she’d met a guy she liked and had been out with him all night.

I gave her one of my Health Valley granola bars so she wouldn’t pass out as Professor Dlamini went on and on about the South African Bill of Rights.

He’s staying at Camelot, so I walked home with him. My impression is that he’s an extremely conservative Christian.

From some of his comments on the death penalty and the constitutional provision banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – he said something about “abnormal sex” – I gather that if he were an American, he’d be happy on the Republican right.

Yet he does seem committed to all the economic and social and even cultural rights protected in the interim constitution.

I ran into  Derrick, who asked if I read the latest Docket, the law school paper.

Obviously not well enough, because I didn’t see the news that he was married on Valentine’s Day. He showed me his ring. “Everyone was surprised,” he said, “because we weren’t even engaged . . . it was sudden.”

“Congratulations,” I said. “I think I can say that to you, at least. Aren’t you supposed to say just ‘good luck’ to the bride?”

“Well, I’m the one who should be congratulated, and my wife will need a lot of luck to put up with me.”

I wonder if he really is an alcoholic, as he often says. I suspect he’ll need some luck, too.

Today was a sunny spring day.

Saturday, February 26, 1994

7 PM. I was awakened at 7:30 AM by the cat at the door; after I let her in, I went out into the chilly morning and got the paper and groceries.

Before I left for school, I exercised and began work on my one-page weekly paper for Monday’s Computer Law seminar, which I finished after I got home.

Today was an easy day for me at SFCC, since I showed The Glass Menagerie film in its entirety. It was a fine adaptation by Paul Newman, with good performances by Joanne Woodward, John Malkovich and the other actors. I think my students enjoyed it.

Next week we’ll discuss the film and the play, and I’ll give them an essay to write in class about it.

Today I received only eight papers: two students were absent and two who showed up said it had been “a bad week.”

I shrugged, grateful I’d have fewer papers to grade.

When Ivana dropped me off – she loved the play, which was one of many American plays she used to see in Belgrade, where young people are avid theatergoers – I picked up the mail.

I got rejections from George Washington University and the North Carolina School for the Arts.

But I also got new forms to fill out – applications to the Kern Community College District, an affirmative action form from Old Dominion University to fill out – and my $136 SFCC paycheck.

At the mailbox, I saw Cassandra, who sits in back of me in Hunt’s class, doing her laundry, and that spurred me to put up a couple of loads of wash myself.

I finished the one-page paper for Taylor and worked on the Legal Research assignment, which will require at least an hour in the library before it’s done. I also fooled around on Lexis a little.

The cat decided to leave at 4:30 PM.

This morning, while I was exercising, for the first time I saw her use the litter box – so at least I know she’s not going to make on my floor.

Having just finished the newspaper, I’ll now try to get some reading done for school, though I’d really prefer to goof off totally tonight.

Min was out on Wednesday, and when he came to class on Thursday, he was constantly using tissues to blow his nose because of his continuing bad cold, which I’m sure I gave him.

Next week at this time, I’ll be off for a week for spring break.