A Writer’s Diary Entries From Mid-August, 1993
Tuesday, August 17, 1993
4 PM. I’m so stressed out, and it’s only the first day of the term.
Drop/Add was a nightmare, not just for me but for everyone who had to go through it. I thought I’d get an early number if I got to school at 8 AM, but Doug G told me people started coming at 7 AM.
My number was 172, and I didn’t get to go into the registration room till after 2 PM, and when I did, I got closed out of just about everything.
I ended up adding Employment Discrimination and Public Sector Labor Law and then I dropped the latter course in the office.
I’ve got 13 credits, more than I wanted to take, but I’ll only need 10 credits in the spring. Of course, with the new hour-long classes, that’s 13 real hours, not the 10 hours for 12 credits that I had last fall.
I’m disgusted with law school. The registration process is inhuman, they don’t offer enough classes, they’re snobby, and I now can’t wait to leave.
Yes, I realize I’m still too upset to talk rationally. Upsetting me most was the news that my scholarship money won’t be available till a week from tomorrow at the earliest, leaving me with $70 in the bank.
I called Mom frantically to send me a check just so I can get by.
I wasn’t thrilled (and I know I must have sounded ungrateful so I’ve got to call Mom back and apologize) when she told me that Dad is coming on Tuesday evening and Wednesday when I have classes from 8 AM to 12:30 PM and then have to teach from 7 to 9:45 PM.
Why don’t things ever go on an even keel? I go from way too much free time to a too-hectic schedule.
I was up when the alarm went off at 6:30 AM. During the summer, I got accustomed to getting all the sleep I want, and I forgot how dreadful I felt all last fall when I walked around sleep-deprived.
I just know my loan has been screwed up and I haven’t gotten notice about fee deferment, and it will end up in a hassle that’s already causing me to grind my teeth and feel acid in my stomach.
Deep breath. Close your eyes.
I feel too edgy to read for class or even read the newspaper. I’m glad I took time out to exercise earlier. I think what I need to do is lie down, shut the lights, and unwind.
Okay, I sat still for 20 minutes but my mind never stopped racing.
I think what upsets me is that everything going on seems to happen without my having any control over it – whether it’s the loan foul-ups, the scholarship delay, Drop-Add, people getting A’s who never went to class or opened the text (I’ve heard lots of those stories), Dad’s visit, etc.
I know that lack of control has always been what causes my upsets and depressions. What can I do about it? The serenity prayer? Well, let me just write. I can do that.
Josh phoned last night, telling me about his visit to his brother in Florida. It had been eight years since Josh last saw him. Josh’s niece, who’s 15, flew down from Pensacola and Josh took her back to New York to see his parents.
Josh’s mother is too frail to travel as they had planned to, but his brother put aside his fear of flying and came up to New York for a day to see his parents. “It was very moving,” Josh said.
I read Josh the snotty “The Case of Richard Greyson [sic]” that the ZYX zine published in the issue I got yesterday.
Basically the zine dismissed me as a congenial, pleasant, middlebrow entertainer who doesn’t challenge his audience and is devoid of substance.
Now the guy who wrote that isn’t that far off the mark, but he sees my stories (or “Greyson’s”) as very marketable – and therefore suspect.
I’m not really upset because this guy probably envies me, as all his books seem to be self-published. Besides, I found his own fiction pretentious and badly-written.
I’ve gotten a lot worse reviews, and at least here I come off as charming and gregarious – if shallow.
I spoke to a lot of people at school today: Lee, Marsha, Sharon, Robin, Dwight and several others.
Most people seemed to have had great summers somewhere while I moped around in Gainesville. (A good number of my law school friends really dislike this town.)
I spent time with Karin, who liked her work in Miami.
In International Law, I sat between Karin and Ana, two of my favorite seatmates. Professor Nagan seems witty and obviously well-versed in his subject.
He gave out the first assignment from the text on a handout as well as the Declaration he wrote for PEN’s Dubrovnik conference. He’s assigned tons of supplementary reading, but I don’t plan to go crazy this term.
I sat in on Moorhead’s Public Sector Labor Law, but I left when he didn’t show up. (Pauline told me he finally came in half an hour late.) I’m glad I dropped that class in favor of Dolan’s Employment Discrimination, which Sharon said seemed okay.
I met Javier by the men’s room and told him I was the guy who called him two weeks ago. He urged me to come to tonight’s meeting, but I said I couldn’t and would talk to him about it when I saw him around school.
Wednesday, August 18, 1993
4 PM. Although I’m still stressed out, tomorrow I have classes only at 8 AM and then not till 4:10 PM, so maybe I can relax a bit.
I’m getting sharp pains in a tooth, but hopefully it’s just the result of grinding; I did notice that I’ve been clenching my jaw over the last couple of days.
What makes me more anxious is the precariousness of my financial position. After I shopped at Publix – just maybe I’ve got enough groceries to last me a week until I have to spend more than a few bucks – I have only $50 in the bank.
I can’t pay my bills, and in case any emergency comes up, I’m sunk.
Luckily, an hour ago I found my promissory notes in the mail at last, and I quickly filled them out and took the letter to the post office so it will get to Chase in Tampa a day earlier.
My Stafford for the year is the maximum $7,500 and I’ve got a $4,810 SLS, so they’re giving me more aid than I’d originally expected.
Anyway, I’m relieved to see something happening.
Although I didn’t sleep great last night, considering how my mind raced, I got adequate rest.
Baldwin’s Police Practices class looks like it will be okay; it’s really a class on the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments, with most of the law changed by Supreme Court decisions in the 1990s.
Today Baldwin lectured and warned us to know the facts; of course he loves the facts. I sat with Gene and Kevin, and other Baldwin fans like Martin, Bob, Donna and Lee are in the class.
After that, Karin and I went upstairs to International Law; Ana told us she got everything she wanted at Drop/Add. Probably if I’d gone back at the end of it, stuff would have opened up – Karin said there were empty seats in McCoy’s Admiralty section – but I’ll keep what I’ve got, as I have no choice now.
Nagan is going to be fairly interesting. After he had us look up the Dubrovnik Declaration that he wrote for the PEN Congress, I brought him my copy of the recent American PEN newsletter with its symposium on African human rights.
Laura and I went to the Student Services office, she to hand in a change of address, and I to pick up my revised schedule (with Moorhead’s class dropped).
Then I drove with Laura to the Oaks Mall, where I sat with her as she had a lunch of her usual junk food (chicken fillet, french fries and greasy cookies – stuff that doesn’t tempt me anymore).
It was nice to get away from the hectic campus into a quiet mall for half an hour.
Laura got me back to school at 11:30 AM, just in time for my Employment Discrimination class, where I found a seat between Lee and David A.
Mary Jean Dolan lectured on the framework of laws, although we’ll mostly cover Title VII (of the 1964 Civil Rights Act).
She stumbled a bit the way novice teachers do (like Nunn the first time he taught Criminal Law), but she’s a young, pleasant feminist, and this term I need a break from middle-aged or older male teachers.
Coming home just before 1 PM, I tried to relax after I had lunch.
I should not envy my classmates’ wonderful summer experiences because I’ve had plenty of golden summers when I was younger and even in my thirties. Most of them will not enjoy their summers that much once they become attorneys.
People seemed surprised how much they enjoyed working in law firms: Lorraine in Merritt Island (“I’ve learned this place is irrelevant”) and Alison in Panama City (though of course her best experience was the spring semester in Leiden, which sounds like paradise).
Maybe working in a law office isn’t as bad as I picture it; I guess I’ll never know, really, unless I do it.
Anyway, once I settle into a routine this term, I’ll be as happy as a clam. It bothers me that I still take too long to adjust to novel situations.
It’s just that I’m unused to all this stimuli after my dull summer, when I was alone nearly all of the time.
Thursday, August 19, 1993
7 PM. I feel much less crazy today. Last night I slept well, dreaming of a visit from Sat Darshan – whom I miss – even if I didn’t sleep long enough.
Up at 6 AM, I washed myself with a washcloth, shaved, and combed my hair but didn’t bother to shower until after I came home from school and exercised.
Before class, I spoke with Gene about his son’s preschool, and Karin told us there were 18 vacancies in her Trial Practice class last night.
Baldwin went over selective incorporation as he browbeat – but in a genial way – a second-year student who acquitted himself well.
Baldwin’s classes are still a trip, but I like his style, as well as his often idiosyncratic views of the cases and constitutional law generally.
After Gene and I got our handout for Moffat’s seminar – an article he published – I went home to eat a second breakfast, read the Times in bed, and do low-impact aerobics.
At least on Thursdays and Fridays I can keep my lazy mornings once I get home around 9:15 AM.
I even got a chance to watch part of a soap opera before I decided I’d better hurry if I wanted to beat a thunderstorm to school.
With over an hour to kill on campus, I took The Whole Internet Guide out of reserve at the library, but I couldn’t get far enough to understand as much as I’d like.
I can’t remember how I logged on to UF’s system on Saturday, so I need to keep trying.
Legal History at 4:10 PM was a big class. I sat down early next to Javier, and we talked for a while.
He probably thinks I’m a total asshole; I told him I’m 42 (he’s 24) and from New York, and that I’ll probably be back there in May, so I wouldn’t be around for the Florida anti-gay referendum next fall.
Javier is – as I wrote after his speech in June – one of those saintly activists, and he’s probably so saintly he doesn’t even have disdain for a free rider like myself.
McCoy is such a sweet old man; as Angelina said, you just want to hug him. The class is all non-Anglo-American legal history, and we have to write research papers and give oral presentations, and that’s it.
Our papers will be our final grades, and today and tomorrow McCoy is giving us an overview of the topics we can choose.
Next Thursday, Rosalie Sanderson from the library will discuss research techniques, and the following three classes we will have conferences with McCoy about our topics.
I haven’t figured out what I want to do, but maybe Gypsy law might be interesting if I could find material on it.
I spoke with a lot of people today. Julie B and I are trying to arrange that lunch I promised her – maybe next Friday.
Julie F and Don both told me they were surprised and depressed by bad grades from Weyrauch.
I was sitting with Dawn when Professor Glicksberg came over and told her that Judge Stan Morris said Dawn was “the best natural litigator” he’d ever seen.
Morris – who’s the judge in the Danny Rolling mass-murder trial – observed Dawn and the other students in Trial Practice last spring.
Peter S told me he worked all afternoon on JMBA’s messed-up books, which his predecessor as treasurer had fouled up.
Pete B said he had a great summer working in an Orlando law office.
I joked around with Rich T and Lee in the library, and once again, after all that socializing and going to classes, I feel in the swim of things.
Home at 5:20 PM, I got Mom’s $100 check in the mail; while I can deposit it tomorrow, hopefully I won’t need the money.
Right now I have to read a little for Baldwin’s class tomorrow, even though it’s Betts v. Brady and Gideon v. Wainwright, cases I know well.
I have a slight sinus headache, but my toothache was definitely the result of bruxism.
Brian and Judy’s son Adam was one of the boys playing basketball on the Upper West Side quoted today in Bob Herbert’s New York Times column on the murder of Michael Jordan’s father.
Adam, a bright kid, said Jordan could get over his father’s death by speaking out “about how guns are never the right answer. Maybe he could try to convince kids by showing how guns affected him.”
Friday, August 20, 1993
7 PM. Just when I thought things were slowing down, they’ve speeded up. I’ve added another class that I’m taking and another class that I’m teaching, the result of two phone calls this afternoon.
At 3 PM, Dean Savage called to say that Don Peters had a vacancy in his Negotiation class, the one I tried to get into on Tuesday.
She asked if I’d be interested and she said I could of course drop a class if I picked up Negotiation. Knowing how hard the course is to get into, I agreed immediately.
She said I should try to find Don on Monday and get permission to enter and then see her to add it and drop the class I no longer wanted.
I assumed I would drop Employment Discrimination, and so I went to the main UF campus and got back the money I paid for the text.
But when I got home from McCoy’s class (which had half the students it did yesterday), the phone rang again.
It was Barbara Sloan, who I’d seen earlier at the SFCC English Department meeting. An adjunct had just quit, and she was desperate to find someone to take over the class, another English 102 (“Literature,” she called it) on Monday night from 7 to 9:45 PM.
Although I have Moffat’s seminar then, I agreed, and she was relieved, telling me to get the room and roster from Sherrie on Monday.
So now I have to drop Moffat’s class, but I can do it without penalty because of my addition of Negotiation.
This leaves me with 14 credits, a heavy load. It would be stupid to drop McCoy’s class, however, to get down to 12 credits, since he’s more than happy to give a deferred grade until you get your research paper in and he doesn’t take attendance.
If I find that the four 3-credit courses are too much, I can administratively drop Employment Discrimination in a few weeks, and I’ll be down to 11 credits.
But there’s no reading for McCoy, just writing the research paper and doing the work to prepare for the 15-minute oral presentation.
I may be busier than I was last fall – when I was a wreck – but everything worked out fine then. If my GPA suffers, at least I’ll have the consolation of some extra money.
I obviously don’t expect Nova to call with a great teaching deal like I had last fall.
Still, there goes any hope of a relaxing fall semester. But haven’t I relaxed enough over the last three months?
I’ll cut out movies, TV, magazine-reading. It can’t be much worse than last fall, or indeed, my first semester of law school two years ago.
The SFCC courses are at night, they’re Literature, and I can get away with a lot more than I could teaching composition. I’ll still be going there only twice a week instead of three times a week for just one class as I did last year.
My biggest problem will probably be sleep deprivation.
At 8 AM, I went to Baldwin’s class. After all this time, I still can’t always follow his elegant trains of thought.
Bob told me that he’s the only student in Florida Administrative Law with Jones, who’s going to hold the class in his office.
“You can book the class with a D,” I said.
Bob told me Weyrauch is an expert on Gypsy law, but McCoy was cool to the topic and suggested I pick another for my paper. I need to think about it.
After depositing Mom’s check in the bank, I came home to exercise, shower, dress and eat before I went to SFCC.
Adjuncts were told to come to the department meeting at 11:30 AM, but only a few of the 30 of us did.
I sat with Diana and said hi to the full-timers I know, like Cissy Wood, Vivian Lee and Barbara Hirschfelder.
The meeting lasted a little more than an hour, and I got all the material I needed, including the literature text.
My fee deferment came in today’s mail when I got home.
Back at school, I chatted with Derrick, Julie and Steve F. on a nearly deserted campus. McCoy’s class is the only one at that late hour on Friday.
Javier sat next to me when he came in late; his friend, another gay guy, sat on the other side of me. They probably think I’m a jerk.
From all the stress of the last few days, my skin has broken out badly, and I feel fat although I still weigh 150 pounds.