A Writer’s Diary Entries From Late October, 1993

Thursday, October 21, 1993

7 PM. I always relax once my Wednesday night class is over because I’m finished with the rough part of the week.

Although some of my best talkers were absent, I had a pretty good class while being observed by Iris Hart, who stayed for our 75-minute take on The Glass Menagerie.

At times I floundered, but she seemed happy with my loose, non-directive style when she talked to me afterwards.

I don’t like to call on people, and my students don’t even raise their hands; the class is small enough that people rarely interrupt one another.

After our break, we began M. Butterfly, and I must say I understand the students’ frustration with the play. To my mind, it’s a better idea for a play than it is a play, plus it’s confusing for neophyte play-readers.

Kushner’s play is much better, and I’d love the chance to teach Angels in America.

I got home about 9:40 PM. The ride back from Santa Fe is always pleasant, especially on Wednesday night, because the dark roads are deserted.

After watching a little TV, I fell into a surprisingly good sleep soon after I got into bed.

Up early, feeling refreshed, I caught up on the cases for Police Practices long before Baldwin began today’s session.

After class, Karin and I discussed the spring schedule, and I came home to exercise, shower, read the paper and have lunch.

Our negotiation proved interesting. Steve L, my partner, went ballistic at what he thought was Kevin’s unethical use of a case on Lexis, and that led to some bad feelings that I tried to smooth over.

On the other hand, I would have given in much earlier than Steve did – and for the full amount we had authority to settle for. We settled only after he left for a midterm in a graduate course on the main campus.

I went up to $17,000 (our maximum was $20,000), and Mark B and Darren as the airline went to $23,000. Then the plaintiffs (Steve F and Kevin) agreed to a $40,000 settlement. The airline considered Steve L’s creative scheme but ultimately rejected it because they felt they didn’t have authority to agree to it.

Don Peters got to watch our side not only in the three-way negotiation but saw us with one side and then the other.

I made sure I didn’t interrupt very much and at times was mostly silent; I did note that after I made the comment, “So both sides are taking a risk,” Don shuffled papers and wrote down something. And I think I used humor well – although I tend to personalize everything.

Anyway, Mark had to leave, and Kevin, Steve F, Darren and I ditched the negotiation for half an hour.

We realized we are the same group who has to meet tomorrow at 9:10 AM in the context of the county/developer negotiations, but we were too tired to switch roles then and there.

These negotiation sessions are really bonding experiences. I had sort of been attracted to Darren all term, but that’s fading now. Just from the way he moves his body, I suspect he’s gay – but I’m not sure he knows it yet.

Well, it’s none of my business, but I wish him well. He’s certainly cute: the acne scars on his face only make him more attractive, and he has those nice Korean features.

I’m glad the reaction paper isn’t due till Monday because I can look at the tape at my leisure.

There are only four weeks left to law school classes, and the last week will be really short due to my Miami trip and Thanksgiving. And one week has the Veterans Day holiday in it.

Except for writing assignments, Negotiation has just the big ongoing negotiation left – and that ends in two weeks.

Saturday, October 23, 1993

6 PM. I’ve been procrastinating and haven’t yet graded any of the papers due back Monday night.

A few hours ago, I was in Walmart, walking down an aisle with my shopping cart and eyeing this tall boy in parachute pants from the back before I realized it was my student, Patrick. He’s not a talker, but he’s young and terrific-looking. I have the feeling he’s at least part-Jewish. We smiled and said hi, but I felt guilty because I hadn’t marked his paper yet.

Hey, why don’t I concentrate on what I did accomplish today?

I finished the 10-page reaction paper for Negotiation. I went to the media library in the late morning, and Tom let me take the tape and headphones myself: I watched the last 45 minutes and wrote my paper, in two sittings (pre-and post-Walmart) this afternoon, finishing an hour ago.

Last evening I didn’t accomplish much, although I checked the Chronicle of Higher Education Job List on Internet and printed out four copies of my curriculum vita.

During the night, I had two big awakenings at 10:30 PM and 3 AM and was up for a couple of hours each time. When I finally did fall back asleep, I had this odd dream in which I was shirtless, and Karin came over and put her arms around me and rested her head on my chest.

Wow, I thought, this is weird. I never realized that I had any sexual feelings towards her. I probably don’t, even if the dream was really nice.

All week long, I never saw Javier, and that’s probably a good thing.

Today I got another mailing from his Human Rights Council about the recent hate campaign. They very cleverly enclosed a list of all the contributors to the Concerned Citizens PAC that paid for those homophobic ads so now I know what businesses, doctors and lawyers to avoid.

I sent another $10 check and I’ll probably go to their first workshop, two weeks from tomorrow at the Millhopper library.

Today was a nasty day: it didn’t rain, but the cool weather finally got here. I wore shorts to school this morning but later changed. In the main part of the library, I chatted with Larry, who had a hangover, and David A, who said Dolan keeps getting worse in Employment Discrimination.

We talked about pre-registration and what we plan to take next term; Larry was bummed out because he didn’t get Trial Practice, for which they give preference to fourth- and fifth-semester students.

It’s interesting to see that this term, conservatives like Lawrence and John P are Criminal Clinic prosecutors while liberals like Pauline and Rich T are defense attorneys – just what you’d expect.

Outside, there was a little Florida public interest job fair, with states attorneys’ offices and public defenders, firms that provide legal services to the poor, and state agencies behind tables talking with students who were neatly dressed.

While I was waiting to talk to Steve L, I listened to this guy who works for Unemployment tell how he left corporate practice after five years and took a huge salary cut in exchange for lots of free time and great benefits.

A civil service job is something I should consider; it’s too bad state and local governments aren’t doing much hiring due to budget cuts.

Mom sent me a letter from the Brooklyn College Alumni Office. They put me down as a member of the reunion committee for the classes of ’73 and ’74.

Bart Myers, my old social psychology professor – the radical whose wife used to sew little Viet Cong flags on his shirts – had an interesting letter in the Times, in response to that article I shared with my students about brain research showing links between major and bipolar depression and artistic genius.

Myers says not to confuse correlation with causality and speculates that artists get depressed because it’s so hard to survive financially as an artist. No kidding.

Tuesday, October 26, 1993

4:30 PM. It’s been a cool and cloudy day.

I just finished reading A Doll House. Odd how Ibsen’s play can wet my eyes after the umpteenth reading. It’s so melodramatic and “well-made,” but there’s something about Nora’s transformation at the end and her going off alone to a scary future, to discover her place in the world – obviously, I identify with her actions.

Class last night went well although I had only a couple of students who “got” M. Butterfly at all; one was a sophisticated woman who has lived in London and the other was a guy from Brooklyn who actually drove to Jacksonville to see the movie. (He’s probably gay.)

I could sense disapproval from the overweight polyester-clad Baptist women who sit in the back. They are probably the same people who support the group fighting the gay rights ordinance.

Newspaper articles say Florida is going to have a nasty battle on the referendum next year. Can I really leave the state in good conscience without being a part of the fight against the referendum?

I was glad to see lesbians were picketing the insurance office of the guy who contributed $1,000 to Concerned Citizens. I saw Javier taking off as I arrived at school this afternoon; he must be very busy with this fight.

When I got home, I watched the last 75 minutes of PBS new series on the Great Depression, seeing the way people like the Bonus Marchers fought for their lives back then. (It was surprising and gratifying to see how integrated those veterans were.)

MacArthur devastated the Bonus Marchers, of course, and the gay rights forces will probably lose to bigotry in Florida in 1994, but being on their side is the right thing to do. If I stay closeted and inactive, that’s letting the bigots win, isn’t it?

Yes, if I got a job out of state, I should go, of course. But otherwise, I can always wait to leave until after the state of Florida votes to legalize bigotry.

I didn’t sleep much last night. Up at 4:30 AM, I decided to exercise before I had breakfast at 6 AM and listened to the Canadian election results. The Liberals won and the Tories fell from power to near-total extinction as they ended up with just two seats in Parliament.

On campus, Barry told me we can’t take D.T. Smith’s seminar next term because he requires the prerequisite of Fiduciary Administration. So I’ll take the Computers and the Law seminar instead. I’m actually better off with a class where I’ll be forced to work hard and learn about something I’m interested in.

Well, we’ll see how registration goes tomorrow morning. I’m going to fall behind in my International Law reading, but nobody is doing the reading and I’ll miss class because of registration tomorrow anyway.

I need to work on the ongoing negotiation. This morning I drafted some proposals to present to the two other sides, but it’s hard to arrange a meeting time with all six of us.

In Negotiation this afternoon, we went over ethics problems. After class, Kevin reported on his talk with “Martha Greenpiece” last night and we talked out some ideas.

I can’t meet tomorrow night and Kevin’s having a going-away party for his wife at her office on Thursday evening. I think Anoush and Aileen, as well as Darren and Steve F, are way behind the curve – and all three of our clients must sign an agreement by 5 PM next Friday.

Friday, October 29, 1993

9 PM. I don’t have much work to do this weekend. For SFCC, I have only one late paper to grade and then I have to figure out what to do on Wednesday and plan the poetry selections we’ll read.

I don’t want to read ahead for International Law because the last time I did that, I didn’t know that Nagan would skip a chapter so I ended up reading 100 pages we never covered.

This morning I was called on by Baldwin, so I’m probably less pressured in Police Practices although I plan to read ahead anyway. And aside from the final negotiation – all of us are meeting on Sunday evening – I have nothing to do for Don Peters’ class.

It’s a good thing I read the chapter on electronic surveillance last night. Baldwin is one of those law professors who has a sixth sense for calling on students when they’re least prepared, and today I was surprised when he called on me.

While I stumbled several times during the course of the hour, I was able to deal with the facts of the cases – even though I forgot my supplement, and Gene had to hand me Illinois v. Rodriguez.

Seeing it immediately refreshed my memory, and after class, Martin, Donna and others told me I did well. We’ve now finished our unit on consent and go on to the wiretap cases.

When I learned that Baldwin would be arguing at the suppression hearing – yesterday, witnesses were called and evidence introduced – I decided to go to the courtroom. So right after I got home, I took a quick shower and changed my clothes (I wore my new baggy Levis from Burdines) before driving downtown and parking in the library lot.

The hearing began at 10 AM, and there were only a few spectators, including Mrs. Baldwin. Everyone was pretty friendly, and one of Rolling’s attorneys, a man with a bushy gray beard and long hair, was a former student of Baldwin’s who had been an auto mechanic before going to law school.

I found Baldwin’s 50-minute argument before Circuit Judge Stan Morris a brilliant discourse – better than he is in the classroom – and a wonderful review of our Fourth Amendment search and seizure cases.

Essentially, Baldwin argued that evidence found by cops in a tent on woods belonging to UF where Rolling had been living (but was not around at the time) should not be suppressed because Rolling, as a trespasser, had no expectations of privacy.

Hearing Baldwin rely on opinions by Chief Justice Rehnquist that I know he disagrees with was instructive because I still have trouble – though I shouldn’t – understanding how advocates can cite authority they would normally argue against.

I left court at 11:30 AM and spent time in the public library, reading The Advocate, the Village Voice and other newspapers. After shopping at Publix, I came home for lunch, laundry, exercise and newspaper-reading.

The mail brought my SFCC paycheck, which I deposited in the bank. Then I went to school because I promised Judy to go to her talk on pre-Norman English law and also because I wanted to see Javier.

After speaking with Judy, I sat down with Javier, who was sitting alone at an outside table, and asked him what was happening with the local and state anti-gay campaigns. It’s a lot, apparently.

While I still can’t shake my crush on Javier, I can see that there’s absolutely no hope and all I want is to be a sort of friend at this point.

But I need to have contact with someone who’s an activist, and I know from the things I talk about, Javier at least realizes I read a lot and keep up with gay rights stuff.

Judy gave an excellent presentation. I assisted her by standing behind her and pointing to various regions of England on the map as she mentioned them.

This smaller group (J-P alphabetically) of Legal History is much quieter than yesterday’s A-I section. The reports were better, too, ending with Jennifer’s enlightening talk on her own people, the Druze.

Javier left without even saying goodbye, but now I know that’s just how he is. After telling Judy she did great, I came home for dinner.

Sunday, October 31, 1993

4:30 PM. In an hour I’ll be heading over to Anoush’s condo, which isn’t far from here, for our long negotiating session with all the parties.

Going back on Standard Time means it should be dark an hour earlier, but what really makes it feel like autumn is that it’s only about 55° now.

I spent the last hour sitting by the pool, trying to read an article – a very good one, on the crummy writing of academics – in the Times Book Review. Then Mark B came over, in the midst of doing his laundry, and we got to talking.

Like a lot of people, he thought I was in my twenties and didn’t know I was a writer and college teacher. He seemed to really interested in what I had done, and it sounded as if he would rather be a writer and teacher than be a lawyer. Tomorrow he flies to Atlanta, where he’s got an interview with the feds.

Mark is not sure his group will end up settling. Kevin called me and said he spoke to “Martha Greenpiece” again, and she has no problems with one proposed concession by the developer. She told Kevin we have only five minutes remaining to talk with her, though once we reach a tentative settlement, we can have another half-hour.

Last night they didn’t show Rocky Horror – the TV listings were wrong – so I watched Paula Poundstone’s quirky new show, read a little, and went to bed early.

Up at 6:30 AM (really, for my body, it was an hour later), I discovered it was 45° out. I put on a winter jacket and my car stalled when I went to get the Sunday Times.

Reading the paper was a joy, with articles by Michiko Kakutani on diaries (Senator Packwood’s are being subpoenaed by the Ethics Committee); the Tofflers on the rise of information, intensive transnational networks, and the decline of the nation-state (something Professor Nagan is always talking about); an interesting piece in the Business section on negotiating your new job salary and duties; and an interview with Mart Crowley on the 25th anniversary of The Boys in the Band.

I remember seeing The Boys in the Band at Theatre Four (on West 55th and Ninth) in August 1969. While politically incorrect by today’s standards, the play still reads well and is the progenitor of stuff like Torch Song Trilogy and Angels in America, both of which also deal with the issue of being openly gay versus closeted.

After exercising, I watched The McLaughlin Group and This Week with David Brinkley. The latter show was being broadcast from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, and the views of the town made me want to go back there one day.

Later on, I took a walk around the neighborhood and my cheeks got red from the chill in the air.

I got only one knock on my door for Halloween – three adorable trick-or-treaters, two boys as different versions of Batman and a girl as Minnie Mouse. I gave them each a quarter, reminding them not to eat the coin.

It’s chilly in the apartment, so I’m wearing my colorful purple, turquoise and green sweater with a jacket over it.

I hope this meeting doesn’t last the whole night, but we need to get this done. I’ll go eat now.