A Writer’s Diary Entries From Early April, 1992

Wednesday, April 1, 1992

4 PM. I’ve got my practice orals in a couple of hours. So I need to get dressed in “courtroom attire” and take myself to the room where Greg and I will be doing our arguments. I’m slightly nervous, but I’m sure I’ll be fine.

As a teacher and someone who’s spoken in public and before TV cameras, I’m comfortable in the limelight, and usually I can think on my feet. I’d rather be peppered with questions than have to give a speech.

I’ll read over the material about oral arguments, but I’ve already read Greg’s brief, which was well-done, and my own stuff, and prepared a little outline and a few notes.

At school early today, I read Cruzan and the notes following the case, and I wasn’t disappointed as Baldwin went over Bowers v. Hardwick.

He even brought in a little pamphlet the State of Florida published called “Homosexuality and Citizenship” and said it contained a glossary of terms, from which he read some entries: “Dreamboat: an attractive homosexual.”

Baldwin argued the case against this absurd “Purple Pamphlet” and he said most were destroyed, so his copy is a collectors’ item. I’m glad to have him as a teacher, but I think it’s even better that conservative future corporate lawyers be exposed to Baldwin’s views.

Fall registration started today, and there was a crush of people in front of the lounge. I expect I’ll get closed out of classes when I register tomorrow morning.

Before Contracts, I read the newspaper; I have yet to do any of this week’s reading for Property or Civ Pro, but I figure I will have time tomorrow and Friday (when my row is “on” in Civ Pro).

We switched rooms with the other Contracts section for April Fools’ Day, although some of us, like Judy and Karin, were feeling uncomfortable. But the joke went well.

It was funny to see Harrison’s face as he realized we were not his class. When Mike W told him, “You must be in the wrong room,” you could see Harrison wondering about it for half a second.

He was a good sport, as was Davis, who told us exactly what Harrison did: the unexpected silence when he walked into the classroom was a dead giveaway that things weren’t normal.

I came home at 11:30 AM, had lunch, did aerobics, showered and tried to prepare for tonight. Greg and I are scheduled for 5:50 PM, and it will be over in half an hour.


7 PM. Just got in. The orals went okay, and I have to get through only the real thing before Harris and two lawyers or judges a week from now. The criticisms I got were, in a way, compliments, at least as I perceive them.

I’m not an effective advocate, but I don’t intend to argue cases on appeal. They said I was too casual, not formal enough, and I used “I” and “you” inappropriately. That’s because, after years of being interviewed by the media and lecturing as a teacher, I’m used to being the center of attention when I’ve got a camera taping me or I’m standing behind a lectern.

My personality comes through too much, and no client wants his lawyer to be a “personality.”

Now that there are three weeks to go of my first year of law school (I’ll handle the finals on my own), I feel relieved that I’ve gotten through okay and have avoided “thinking like a lawyer.” I’m a writer, a critic, a performer, a storyteller, a teacher.

Greg was much better than I was, especially since he got thrown harder questions. I want to be eloquent, and that doesn’t work in the cold logic judges want to see.

Actually, what really bothered me about school tonight was to see that many courses I wanted to take in the fall are closed, including all three Tuesday seminars: Media Law, Art Law and Police Brutality. I have to start all over again and make up a new schedule tonight. I’d better get to school early tomorrow.

Friday, April 3, 1982

4 PM. It’s a record-setting chilly, dark, almost wintry day, although many of my classmates, relying on the calendar and not the thermometer, wore shorts and T-shirts to school.

This has been a long, hard week, but it ended well, with my being called on in Civ Pro to do the difficult Hanna case. I’d prepared by reading Emanuel’s when I got my second wind last night and then by reading the casebook and hornbook at home between classes today.

Before class I even did Lexis searches of law review articles using the case name and AMBIGU! (I’ve decided that ambiguity is the key to law school exams.)

At school just after 7AM, I read Property over again; I need to keep reading the cases to deepen my understanding.

At 8:30 AM, I turned on the lounge’s TV to CNBC/FNN to hear the March unemployment figures: steady at 7.3%, but only 19,000 new payroll jobs were created, worse than anticipated.

Despite all the signs of recovery, basically the economy is stagnating. Certainly the job picture looks bleak.

I’ve profited, of course, from extended unemployment benefits. It’s been a windfall I don’t know how I’d have survived without.

The Tokyo stock market is pretty low, and London’s been sinking because polls show Labour might win next week’s election. (I hope so.)

Luckily, Julin rambled again so we didn’t get to the landlord/tenant cases I haven’t yet read.

Today was Media Day at the law school, with lots of presentations featuring Bill Chamberlain and others. I felt funny about attending, given that I’ve left the joint program with the journalism school, but anyway, I didn’t have time.

Talking to other students about their practice orals, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who used “I” too much, and others – particularly older students like Donna and me – were told we weren’t “deferential” enough.

Well, I plan to do nothing but relax the rest of the day.

Saturday, April 4, 1992

7 PM. I fell asleep during McNeil/Lehrer last evening at the ridiculously early hour of 7:45 PM and didn’t awaken till 11½ hours later at 7:15 AM today. Rarely have I ever slept for so many hours.

Obviously, just as I’d been saying all week, I was in desperate need of sleep. I had many nourishing dreams, from which only a few fragmented images remain. But I felt rejuvenated this morning.

Today I spent reading Property, mostly the final section on landlord/tenant law. Julin will probably get to it only in the remaining four days of class – and he may not get there on Thursday – but Jim told me it’s always one of the four sections given equal weight on Julin’s final.

The reading was heavy, but I supplemented it with Emanuel’s, and I like feeling I can know one section of a course well. A lot of it is familiar to me as a longtime tenant; since 1979, I’ve signed plenty of leases.

First there was the apartment in Rockaway, then the condo in Sunrise, the apartments in North Miami Beach and Lauderhill, the student housing at Nova, and the three leases at Sun Point Cove before this apartment’s lease. Plus, living with Teresa in the real estate-crazed market of Manhattan during the ‘80s taught me a great deal by osmosis.

Tomorrow I’ll read Con Law and probably stick to that. I’ll have time to read Contracts for Tuesday and Thursday, and even though I’ll be called on for the cases on misrepresentation in Torts on Monday, I can leave school after Con Law at 9 AM and have six hours before class, plenty of time to do the reading carefully.

This week I need to begin preparing for finals, and today’s Property reading was part of that effort. I went out only twice today.

Before 8 AM, I walked to the post office to get the papers (I also buy the Gainesville Sun on Saturday to get the TV book) and buy stamps.

On the way I saw a little white dog that seemed like it was lost. I tried to get it to come to me because I saw it had a collar with tags, but the dog wouldn’t stay still when I approached.

(Cheers just rang out from the stadium – a baseball game?)

And at 10 AM, I went out a second time to buy $60 worth of groceries at Publix. Other than that, I did aerobics, stuffed my face, and read.

I’ve already turned the three digital clocks (my radio and two microwave ovens) an hour ahead. Maybe I can get up at 4:30 AM or 5 AM this week.

(Another round of crowd cheers.)

It’s April 4, two months before my birthday. No one here knows when my birthday is, of course, so I’ll probably ignore it. I’m looking forward to having more time to myself here in Gainesville, especially during the May intersession.

I went away for the long Christmas break and the week of spring break, and now I need time to clean my apartment and just get myself moving around town the way I did in the first week I got here, before law school orientation.

First, of course, I have to get through 2½ weeks of classes and 2½ weeks of finals.

As a college student, I keep getting slick material from Chrysler, Honda and other car manufacturers with special rebate deals. My Bonneville’s odometer should turn over after I hit 100,000 miles in the next few months, and I pray the car will keep going. I can’t complain at all, and I try to drive it sparingly.

It takes me about five minutes to get to school in the morning although this past week was even faster because the elementary school up NW 5th Avenue was closed for spring vacation, so I didn’t have to slow down to 15 mph.

Ronna will turn 39 a week from Monday, and Teresa will probably feel traumatized about hitting 40 two weeks after that.

I’m disgusted with Clinton again, and right now I probably wouldn’t vote for him. Of course, that would mean helping Bush. I’ll change my mind in November. The latest polls have, in a three-way race, Bush ahead with 45%, Clinton at 25%, and H. Ross Perot at 22%.

I’m hoping Clinton won’t win in New York on Tuesday but I’m resigned to his taking the New York primary and thus the nomination. To me, he’s a walking disaster area.

It’s not only the “character” issue but the way he panders to voters. He might not be much of a change from Bush.

Still, any Democrat would be an improvement. At least Congress will get a lot of new faces; I just hope not too many are right-wing Republicans.

Sunday, April 5, 1992

7:30 PM. The sun hasn’t set yet. Last night I listened to jazz and read more Property before dozing off. At least I got two good nights of sleep in a row. Now comes the week.

I got The Sunday Times this morning and read most of it before afternoon. After doing my usual exercise, I watched McLaughlin and Brinkley before plunging into Con Law. First I went through the capital punishment cases, which were heavy reading.

At 2 PM, I decided I needed a change of scene, so I went off to the library where Dan R came over to say hi. After a while, I walked outside and sat down where Greg, Doug K and Steve H were sunning themselves while reviewing Con Law flashcards.

Doug and Greg have cute bodies, not that I noticed they were shirtless.

I always think that people assume I’m gay, but perhaps that’s only because I wish they would. I hate being closeted, but there’s nothing about my life now that’s particularly gay, so why should I have all the disadvantages of being out and none of the advantages?

Partly it’s because of privacy. But I know Doug has a girlfriend, and last week Clinton introduced me to his girlfriend, and if I had a boyfriend, I’d introduce him to people.

And certainly if anyone asks me about my sexuality, I’ll be happy to tell them all about it, the way I did with Karin and Larry last fall.

Anyway, back home, I slogged on with Con Law, and it got interesting once the First Amendment cases started. This is my favorite area, and one I’m familiar with, so the reading is going fast.

I wrote to Grandma Ethel and mailed out birthday cards for Ronna and Teresa.

Right now my eyes feel like they’re heavy. I like Gainesville in the spring.

Monday, April 6, 1992

4:30 PM. Today was fairly relaxed, as I was on campus for only a few hours.

Unable to sleep last night, at least I exercised and read the material on misrepresentation for Torts by early morning.

In class, I was called on only once, when Steve H faltered, but I did get off a joke that had the class in stitches after Dowd gave us a “right to publicity” hypo about an Elvis impersonator.

“Are we assuming Elvis is dead?” I deadpanned.

I got a note from Bert Stratton, who said he’s sorry he missed me in South Florida and sent copies from a book of Dave Tarras’s musical compositions: the title page, the table of contents and a sheet of music entitled “Richards [sic] Ba Mitzva.”

I’m pretty sure that’s about me unless Uncle Dave had a grandson named Richard I don’t know about. In any case, it’s nice to believe such a famous musician composed a piece just for me.

They were also pieces that mention Aunt Shifra, “Seymole” (probably Sammy Musiker), and Teranovka, the town where Uncle Dave (and perhaps the Shapiro family, including Grandma Ethel), came from.

I got a notice from Dean Kent, kindly saying the journalism school’s loss was the law school’s gain. How nice of him. I’m still embarrassed about dropping out of the joint degree program.

Tuesday, April 7, 1992

8 PM. If it’s Tuesday, I must be sleep-deprived. I got under the covers at this time last night and listened to a radio concert of music related to death. Then I listened to a PBS show, the first part of a series on the history of the computer.

Recently I read an article which I agree with: all that crap that I learned as a graduate student in computer education at FIU and then taught as a teacher-trainer in Miami – the glossaries, the computer history, the attempts at teaching programming in BASIC and Logo, the facts about the incredibly primitive hardware and software of the Apple II computers we used – most of that was not relevant to what people need to know about living with computers.

The more I learned about computer education in the 1980s, the more I got away from that typical education department mindset, just as I did in my teaching of writing – but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still the current mode in computer classrooms all across America.

Last night I just couldn’t find a comfortable position to lie in, and when I did finally get to sleep at 11 PM or so, everything was fine until I woke up at 3 AM and decided to start preparing for final exams by worrying about my lack of preparation.

I’m so far behind, I feel I’ll never put it all together in time to do well on finals. Anyway, I finally drifted off again, and I had a dream in which my parents tricked me into visiting a hospital room where this mean woman doctor was about to perform an operation on me.

This reminded me of stuff Mom and Dad actually did when I was little, all in the name of keeping me from “worrying” or “getting scared” about some medical procedure – my tonsillectomy or oral surgery – ahead of time. Of course, my parents were very young, only in their twenties, so it’s not surprising that they were so inept.

Either I’m not interested in cruel or unusual punishment or I was just very tired this morning, but I kept yawning in Con Law. I read for Contracts, but Davis didn’t get far, only a couple of pages in the text.

Back at home, I ate a sweet potato and some defatted peanuts and got into bed for an hour. I didn’t sleep, but the rest helped, and I went back to school for the C-10 Property tutorial, which was nearly worthless.

Copying some study materials with Lorraine and Martin, the two most active Democrats I know at school, I discovered that both were distressed by the presidential campaign, and like me, feel antipathy toward Clinton.

He’s already been declared the winner in Kansas tonight, and when the polls close in New York and Wisconsin in an hour, we’ll discover he won there, too.

Well, maybe if Clinton had any real opposition, he wouldn’t have. It’s no wonder turnout of voters is so light; there’s nobody worth going to the polls for.

Torts was okay, and Dowd passed over me altogether as we continued our unit on misrepresentation. Back home, I exercised, had dinner, listened to the news, and tried to read most of today’s newspaper.

Tomorrow evening is my orals; I envy those people who did their arguments last night. Well, all I have to do is get the damn thing over with.


9:30 PM. I’m tired but still wide awake. Clinton did win all the primaries, but Tsongas did okay for a non-candidate, and Brown ran strongly in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Two weeks from tomorrow is the final day of classes. I was wondering if maybe I should take a day off. Well, maybe I’ll have to. My throat is very sore, although I don’t feel sick.

At the law library today I brought a Federal Reporter 2d to the desk because pages of the volume had begun to fall out. I may not be nurturing, but I hate to see hurt books the way Jonathan and Mom hate to see hurt animals.

Thursday, April 9, 1992

8 PM. It’s only just become dark, and it’s about 78° now, so it feels like summer.

I feel relaxed because Julin canceled tomorrow morning’s class, to be made up with a double session next Friday. That means I don’t have to get to school until the afternoon, and I can sleep late if it’s physically possible.

I was out the door at 7 AM and did some shopping at Publix before going to the law library, where I turned in someone’s Family Law notebook that I found in the classroom last evening.

I can only imagine how frantic the student must be; the library staff said they’d phone her.

I searched for current cases dealing with Civ Pro issues but didn’t come up with much. I got Baldwin’s practice final and tips from Karin via Emira. And although I had time to study, I found socializing more attractive as I sat with Bob, Lee and Dan R outside until Property began.

As expected, Julin didn’t get to landlord/tenant law as he became sidetracked by students’ questions. Still, I was able to follow the intricacies of future interests.

Before coming home, I finally broke down and bought Emanuel’s for Contracts. This evening I organized all my outlines, study guides and additional materials for each of my five classes.

At home between classes, I exercised, showered and had lunch, and I managed to catch the last hour of the Diversity Day rally speakers.

I missed Professor Nunn and the Black Law Students Association but heard Denise Ferrero of JMBA, Professor Don Peters, and the heads of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society and the Jewish Law Students Association.

At least people are becoming aware that even in law school, we need to change our mindset.

The other day, discussing a Torts case, Kenny H used the word “girl” to describe a secretary. I noticed and said something to Lorraine, who replied, “Typical.”

She’s right. Kenny, part of a family that’s been prominent in Florida law and politics for decades, is the kind of law student who’d surely have been at UF thirty years ago, but a lot of us wouldn’t have been wanted here at the time.

Dowd probably noticed the word but didn’t flinch or comment.

Kenny’s a nice guy, and he meant nothing by the remark, but it was like the unfunny joke the JLSA guy told at the rally: He’d gone to talk to a sympathetic professor about the school’s scheduling exams on Saturdays and classes on Yom Kippur and was listened to respectfully, but then the professor said, jokingly, “Of course, if you converted, it would solve the problem.”

The point of the story was that white Christian heterosexual males are the norm even in this tolerant professor’s eyes.

Mashburn tried to slowly ease us into our unit on the preclusive effects of judgments, but it’s already confusing.

So far the British election result seems to be a hung Parliament.