A Writer’s Diary Entries From Early November, 1994

Tuesday, November 1, 1994

4 PM. I just exercised as best I could. Once again, I had terrible insomnia last night. I just lay in bed with my mind unable to stop whirring. Because I know that I need to associate my bed with sleep, not with thinking, I got out of bed to read and to watch St. Elsewhere and just to sit.

Finally I fell into a dream-filled but unsatisfactory sleep around 2:30 AM, and I was up at 6 AM. That’s three and a half hours, and I don’t expect to do any better tonight.

Last year, when I taught in the evenings and had my own law school classes at 8 AM and 9 AM, I had weeks like the recent ones when I’d just drag myself through the week until finally, on Thursday night, I’d get sufficient rest.

I’m so much more productive when I’m well-rested. This afternoon, I’m sure, it was my torpor which caused me to accidentally erase the memo I’d worked on all morning, the Microsoft trademark memo – after Liz gave it back to me with edits and suggestions.

So I ended up wasting 45 minutes retying and rewriting from my draft hardcopy, which I’d thrown in the garbage and luckily was able to retrieve.

Of course, not having the car this morning made the commute over an hour long. I had to go to the bus stop at 7:30 AM, and I got the #1 bus, transferred at Shands for the #9, and it was 8:45 AM when I arrived at CGR.

After meeting with Liz, I met with Stacey, who said she’ll do some minor edits and returned the revised memos on disk tomorrow. This afternoon Christine gave me the long Lisa Power memo on E-mail and employees’ privacy rights.

I should have five memos ready by the end of the week, but I haven’t had fun doing the ones on the ANSI/ASCQ copyright and the waiver/release memo about absolving schools from liability if the students see pornography on the Internet.

Those are the memos David left. And the worst mess is a memo on students’ privacy rights regarding E-mail.

As I was about to leave to pick up my car around 11:30 AM, Jon Mills got a call that his wife Beth was at the hospital in labor; she wasn’t due to give birth for twelve days. He was told there wasn’t even time for him to go home and pick up her things.

And when I returned to the office, I learned that Marguerite Mills was born at 12:15 PM, a healthy seven-pound, fifteen-ounce baby. (They had known it was a girl and had already named the baby, their first child, after Jon’s mother.)

Anyway, when I left, I got the #6 bus to Millhopper Plaza, and the Mobil credit card did take the $350 repair bill; it was over $130 cheaper than what Firestone had wanted for the job. The car rides okay, I guess; I’m not used to not having a problem steering.

When I came home for lunch, I noticed another problem that was probably the result of my exhaustion: I’d neglected to close the refrigerator tightly at 7:30 AM, and consequently, I had sort of an impromptu defrosting.

At work from 1 PM to 3:30 PM, I didn’t accomplish much. In the library, I ran into Professor Taylor, who hadn’t yet known I got the job; she told me I could look at all her computer seminar papers if I wanted to.

Liz mentioned her fear that I’m going to learn all this intellectual property stuff about computers and that I could be snatched away as a valuable commodity by a big law first eager for my expertise.

We also had a nice talk about literature. Liz said she liked Nicholson Baker’s early novels, but mostly she prefers nineteenth-century novels and Anne Tyler and poetry.

I chatted briefly with Tom D, Bruce B and Jim P as we ran into each other during the course of the day. I haven’t made a dent in today’s New York Times, but maybe I should save it tonight for when I’m unable to sleep.

Phil Attey left a message that tonight’s mail-out at the Civic Media Center is from 6 PM to 10 PM, and of course I’ll go. I haven’t seen local TV, but evidently Concerned Citizens’ horribly homophobic ads are saturating the airwaves.

Now I see they had the strategy of keeping very quiet and then bombarding TV and radio and newspapers with their lies the last week of the campaign. Undoubtedly people will believe all that crap. It works for candidates, after all.

There is no time to respond to last-minute negative ads with reasoned discourse. Voters are idiots.

Actually, I think the current politicians are exactly what the electorate deserves. Instead of blaming the politicians, voters should look in the mirror to see the true scoundrels of our system.


Wednesday, November 2, 1994

4 PM. On my way home last night at about 9:45 PM, I stopped off at Publix to get a few things. I had to use the bathroom, and when I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, I realized that the hairs on my chin were getting white – not just gray, but snow-white.

Just ten minutes ago I finished shaving off my beard. My face is not unfamiliar to me, but I’m not used to the cleft above my lips (what do they call that thing in the middle?) and the feature that led me to grow a beard, my recessed chin and turkey neck, a trait I share with Dad and Marc.

But better to look younger than weak-chinned, I think. The great thing is that I can always grow the beard back, but maybe this time I’ll see what reaction I get.

Phil told me to come in at 6 PM last evening, but most people weren’t starting till 6:30 PM, so he called me over to the back of the Civic Media Center, where he was watching the local news.

Others also arrived in time to see the story on No on One’s latest press conference, to introduce supportive letters from Jesse Jackson and Coretta Scott King, along with people of color from the community who spoke.

We began taking boxes from Eden’s car, and I noticed our commercial on TV and told everyone to look. It was about the county losing business and seemed effective.

I haven’t seen Concerned Citizens ads, but I’m told they feature “innocent” (white) children contrasted with flamboyant “militant” Gay Pride marchers in New York City or San Francisco – about what you’d expect.

The boxes were filled with postcards featuring the photo of an older woman, a heterosexual, telling the story of how her niece lost her job for being a lesbian.

Along with five other older people, I volunteered to go over to work at the house of Abby Goldsmith, the county Democratic Party chair.

There, we had leaflets with the Jackson and King letters and were folding them so the bulk mail and return address parts would show and then taping them together and applying labels with the names of the county’s 7,000 black Democrats.

Ed and Abby – she’s funny and her house is messy – and I worked on her screened-in back porch while a cute pet rabbit hopped about. When it got colder, I worked indoors.

The Civic Media Center kept sending over people, and at 9:15 PM, when this young guy needed to leave, he and I got a ride back there with an elderly Unitarian widow from New Hampshire.

Only Bryan, Javier, Bob and Roger were left at the Center, so I probably could have gone home earlier if I hadn’t gone over to Abby’s – but I didn’t mind the opportunity to meet new people and talk. (Abby’s husband was in Tampa at the Chiles/Bush debate.)

I slept just enough not to feel exhausted today although now I’m becoming a little drowsy.

I still haven’t finished yesterday’s New York Times, let alone today’s. But I did accomplish something at work.

After conferences with Liz – who’s an able editor – and a phone conversation with ASQC’s lawyer, I wrote first drafts of the ASQC and Windows trademark memos. I’m also pretty much satisfied with Lisa’s memo now.

Stacey said she got busy and didn’t have time to do any editing but promised to have her memos tomorrow.

I helped a Polk County police officer who called the office find sources for a paper he’s doing for a graduate course at Troy State University’s off-campus program in management.

I was in the office from about 8:45 AM till 12:15 PM, then went back from 1:30 PM till 3:30 PM.

Tomorrow isn’t the last workday of the week – the way it will be next week with Veterans Day a week from Friday – but most of the CGR are taking off for Homecoming this Friday, so I think I’ll go to work in jeans and only stay a little while.

I’ve got so much unfinished business aside from work at CGR, but with a steady decent paycheck at least I can now begin to current on paying my bills.

Basically, things will ease up in three weeks once I get back from the meeting in Tallahassee. I won’t have to produce memos for another meeting until late winter or early spring. I guess I should get involved with P.K. Yonge soon.

George Myers and I keep playing telephone tag.


Saturday, November 5, 1994

7 PM. Last evening I watched some panel shows on the news and read Poets & Writers, whose pages seem to feature interviews with obscure writers who pontificate on their craft.

I slept pretty well and felt refreshed when I work up early. At 6:30 AM, I was at Kash n’ Karry, buying some staples and the newspapers. I read the papers and got on Lexis and Delphi before breakfast, after which I listened to NPR.

Instead of exercising to a video today, I did half an hour of old routines with the free weights. I think I’m going to start visiting the new fitness center near the Harn Museum, and I’d like to see how my body reacts to the kind of weightlifting I used to do.

After a shower, I was reading a law review article when Mom called to say that she’d read about Publix having to withdraw the Florida Family Council’s voter guide by complaints by South Florida residents – probably mostly Jews and secular Democrats – who objected to seeing candidates asked their religion.

I went to Belk Lindsey because they were giving 25% discounts on all credit card purchases, and I bought a belt and two more pairs of those no-wrinkle slacks I can wear to work. Then, at the Tower Road library, I read some newspapers.

Coming home, I got a taste of traffic on the day of the Homecoming football game as cars headed toward the stadium. Back in the apartment, I began working on Stacey’s Florida computer crimes memo while eating lunch when Phil Attey called.

I’d forgotten I’d volunteered for phone banking this evening, but I said I could come over and do it this afternoon instead. Phil told me to meet him at the law office of some supporter, in the Sun Center, a kind of indoor mall office complex downtown next to the Hippodrome Theater.

When I got there, Eden immediately said, “He’s shaved his beard and looks twelve years old!” She doesn’t know how happy it makes me to know that at least somebody thinks I look younger now.

Phil was telling Eden and her friends about these terrible homophobic jokes at Gator Growl last night. I don’t know why he expected anything else. To me, it’s a portent of the defeat we’ll suffer at the polls on Tuesday.

I absolutely hated calling people up and reading from the script Phil and Bob prepared. Most people were not home, so I could leave messages on machines, but I just despise talking to strangers.

At least I didn’t get any crazies the way Eden’s friend got a guy who kept saying “nigger” over and over again. The hostile people were at least polite to me.

But I didn’t call everyone I was supposed to: We had a 1992 voters list, and we were told to call only those with a phone number listed (about a third of the total) who were both female and registered Democrat.

I ended up leaving five messages on my own machine just to avoid calling more people. I’ve got to get out of doing this on Monday night. To me, it’s humiliating, and I sympathize with the people I’m interrupting and intruding upon.

After fighting the post-game traffic, I came home to eat and finish editing Stacey’s memos: the one of the Microsoft consent decree needed the most extensive revision. If I could get all of the four in shape by Monday, I’d have seven memos just about ready.

The two that are problematic are the one on student privacy I foisted on Stacey and the one about the waiver/notice/release regarding Internet use.

I E-mailed two computer educators who have columns in Electronic Learning to ask for resources, and I plan to call schools that already provide Internet access to see how they handle the issue of acceptable use.

Twenty minutes ago, a special news report came on, and when I saw a photo of Reagan, I assumed he’d died.

No, he’s alive but has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. That’s sad, but it doesn’t surprise me, given rumors about Reagan’s attention span.

I’m political enough to be annoyed with Reagan for releasing the letter just before the election; it will play on voters’ sympathy and nostalgia for those “good old days.”

Imagine anyone trying to run “It’s morning in America” commercials with all their fuzzy, warm images in 1994 the way Reagan did when he ran for reelection in 1984.

But people really forget that fool’s paradise where they were promised goodies without having to worry about paying for them. As angry and cynical as the public is now, I think they have a healthier attitude than they did a decade ago.

Reagan always could fool himself into believing most of his fantasies; he fooled most of the country, too.


Sunday, November 6, 1994

2:30 PM. I’ve barely begun reading the Sunday New York Times, but already I’ve got eyestrain – because I spent so much time on the computer.

In reading today’s St. Pete Times on Lexis, I came across a column mentioning that a William Cichanski of Clearwater wrote to the Supreme Court about overturning Buckley v. Valeo (the case wasn’t named, but I know it) saying he’s been disenfranchised because the unlimited corporate contributions to his congressman led to his having no opponent.

I found other letters Cichanski wrote in favor of single-payer health care and learned he was a retired colonel.

So I called him and left a message: “Colonel Cichanski, this is Richard Grayson, write-in candidate for Congress,” explaining I’m for single-payer and agree with him about campaign financing and said I hoped he would vote for me.

I bet he will. That’s my campaigning for this election.

It’s going to be a Republican landslide, as the voters are throwing a hissy fit, and the only thing to do is just go with the flow the way I did during the Gulf War, when hysteria replaced doses of reality. I predict the GOP will end up with a 53-47 majority in the Senate and win about 55 House seats to take control of Congress.

Maybe Clinton should let them pass term limits, line-item veto, and a balanced-budget amendment. They’ll do nothing, but it will satisfy the ignorant public.

A lot of the Republicans elected are far-right types who’ll probably propose all sorts of weirdo schemes, but Clinton can veto them. The one thing I was totally wrong about was that the 1990s would be a time when the pendulum swung back to liberalism and reform.

Dislike of government is at a fever-pitch, unlike anything we saw in the 1980’s, and the 1990’s are already half-over. Maybe we’ll just lurch farther and farther rightward. The 1996 Republican convention, Frank Rich writes, will make the last one look like an ACLU pep rally.

I’ll go over to the Civic Media Center at 5 PM, glad this anti-gay vote is almost upon us. If we’re lucky, we’ll get 43% in this ugly election year.

Last evening, after I couldn’t do any more work, I listened to music and read stories by Hawthorne. Now that I’m a working lawyer, I feel much more of a need for literature in my life.

This morning I got an answer to yesterday’s query from Gwen Salmon, who’s left the New York City school system to work in the Education Department in D.C.

She suggested I contact someone at TENET in Texas, and one name on Lexis led to another, and I see I should probably call Susan Mernit, who’s now director of network development at Scholastic.

In the Times Education Life supplement, voilà, appeared an article just on the subject of legal repercussions of access to porn and other harmful texts, so “Cyberspace: The Next Front in the Book Wars” provided me with even more ideas, names and places to look at.

I think it’s exciting how I’m working on a cutting-edge project that deals with so many of my interests: censorship, computers, and legal issues.

Disappointed that our ABC affiliate didn’t show the New York City marathon this year, I took great heart from another sporting event. Forty-five-year-old, overweight George Foreman knocked out his 26-year-old opponent last night and regained the heavyweight championship (okay, one of them) that he last held about 20 years ago.

We older guys still can’t be counted out. Even so, I exercised only lightly (my shoulders and arms are sore from yesterday’s workout) between TV shows and online research.

*

7:30 PM. The meeting at the Civic Media Center lasted an hour and was well-attended.

I sat on the wicker couch near the window, a little apart from most people (until it got more crowded) looking at the group the way a writer would. It surprised me when Bryan asked if he could sit with me.

Later, we were joined by that woman who’s a county prosecutor, (I’m so bad with names – only when I saw a sign-up sheet did I realize Eden’s friend from yesterday was named Janine), and we were squeezed in.

Bryan said he and Javier held signs at 34th and University after the game yesterday and they got called faggots but also had positive responses.

Kathy Lawhon introduced Phil Attey, who said the key is visibility; he wanted sign holders at three major intersections, rush hours both days, and at polling stations.

I felt funny because I won’t hold a sign, but nobody but me noticed.

Phil said that when the Human Rights Campaign Fund sent him to Gainesville he was unprepared for the high level of organization and the talent he found here – Javier, Kathy and Bob along with others, were brilliant and effective in the costliest campaign this county has ever seen.

I got the distinct impression that everyone at the top knows we’re going to lose, but they all probably knew it from the beginning.

As Kathy said “We started with a snowball’s chance . . .”

They stressed that at our victory party, it would be important to let Javier and Rev. Jerry Seay be the only ones to talk to the press, probably because they don’t want people to make angry statements.

“We have to live in this community,” Javier said.

I left as people were taking signs, and I feel – at least tonight – at peace with the coming loss.

I’m glad I did not shirk from getting involved, and I know the people from No on 1 did an extraordinary job.

I volunteered to help the caterer set up Tuesday evening at the Sun Center.

This is going to be a weird week, but I’ve done a lot of work today (even now I’ve got statutes printing out on Lexis), and if I sleep little there’s always time to catch up.

Thursday is the last day of the work week and my first payday, and next week I can get all my memos finished for the meeting in Tallahassee in two weeks (when I’ll probably become a nervous wreck).


Monday, November 7, 1994

3:30 PM. I left the office an hour ago because I felt a little sickish.

Naturally, I slept less than I really should have (about 5½ hours), but I also have a headache and a cough and sinus congestion.

At least I accomplished something last night and today. When I couldn’t sleep, I finished the Sunday New York Times and did a little work.

At the office today, I edited all four of Stacey’s memos, giving Christy the footnote mess to clear up. (I see she needed Laura to help her, so it was complicated.)

I also made a stab at conceptualizing the waiver/release memo. Liz didn’t come in today (nor did Ellen), but I left in her mailbox my outline of that memo and the seven memos I have in fairly decent shape.

The other big one out is the Melanie memo on student privacy, which Stacey is going to try to revise. I also managed to read most of today’s paper and all the campaign news, which I’m heartily sick of.

I just want the election to be over so we can move on. I really don’t want to phone-bank tonight, but I expect to be called.

Among other errands today, I got $40 from the bank’s ATM, bought groceries at Kash n’ Karry, left my two new pairs of pants to be altered, and picked up two pair at the cleaners (they cost $7.70 – an expense I’m not used to).

I did have a good message on my machine when I came home for lunch: Jim Clark of the Orlando Sentinel called and said they’d like to use my “Saturday Special” article.

He needed a tag line to identify me, so I called his voicemail and said I was a staff attorney at the Center for Governmental Responsibility at UF.

I’ll always enjoy these things after I see them and not before, but I knew when I wrote this article (months ago) that they’d probably use it.

It’s not a great piece, but I can add the Orlando Sentinel to the list of papers I’ve appeared in (New York Newsday, the Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Hollywood Sun-Tattler, Palm Beach Evening News, and Miami News).

Maybe I can write a guest column out of my congressional candidate’s diary for the St. Petersburg Times or Tampa Tribune. I’ve been disappointed in the past, but perhaps, come Saturday, I’ll have a new column to xerox for my collection.

I’m going to lie down and close my eyes now. My head is pounding and my throat is scratchy.

Without Liz’s input there wasn’t much more I could do at work today. (I’m trying to rationalize the five hours I was in the office.)