A Young Writer’s Diary Entries From Early June, 1982

Tuesday, June 1, 1982

6 PM. It’s yet another cloudy, rainy afternoon. I marked most of the night class’s papers last evening, and I called Susan Mernit in New York.

She’s doing great. Susan is now in therapy, she’s working hard on her fiction, and she got a waitress scholarship at Bread Loaf. The film is becoming a reality, and work at Teachers and Writers Collaborative is keeping her busy.

She’s now involved in a project with Ron Padgett, their new director of publications, and she finds him great to work with and not at all the sharp-tongued politico he’s supposed to be.

Susan has got a new agent, Maxine Groffsky, whom she picked because she was impressed with what Maxine did with Scott Sommer, selling all of his books to the movies.

Maxine liked Susan’s blues novel and will market it just as Susan finishes the book. Susan mentioned my name to Maxine, who said she had heard of me and was interested in what I was doing.

Although Susan suggested I might want to think about asking Maxine to be my agent, I remember how she turned me down after I sent her a query letter several years ago.

I don’t think a good agent needs me, and I don’t really need an agent right now. I’m certain that nothing will happen with Saul Cohen sending my manuscripts around.

Reports from the ABA convention in Anaheim confirm that the book business is in its worst slump ever – so I can’t expect the New York trade publishers to be interested in what I’m doing.

Of course, I can’t be like Tom, either, blithely ignoring the realities of the marketplace; I don’t have that devotion to writing and literature that Tom does.

Maybe I’m lazy, but I’m content to be where I am right now. While I may envy Scott’s photo in the Village Voice, I know that I would not want to trade places with him.

Last night I had more dreams of New York – a kind of nightmare about being an adjunct again – and my first anxiety dream about flying. So I know I’m preparing myself for the trip, at least psychologically.

This morning I had a pleasant 8 AM class and didn’t stay long afterwards at the college. I got a whole batch of definition papers from my class, and by now I’ve gone through about two-thirds of them.

Tomorrow they’re writing in class, so I should be able to get the rest of them done then – although, of course, I’ll have a whole new set of papers to grade.

My mail included my first birthday card – from Teresa (“You can fool Father Time, but you can’t fool Mother Nature”) – and a nice letter from Stacy.

Mom called to ask if she could give me the check that Sasson/California sent Dad and if I could give her $1,000 cash in return. Because I’ve just restructured my bank accounts, it will be difficult.

I was annoyed with Mom for putting me in such a guilt-making, uncomfortable position. Things must be pretty gad if my parents can’t afford to pay their monthly mortgage and utilities bills.

Later, Mom said she’d see if she could deposit the check. Damn those banks for floating our money!

I called Sean at noon – he was eating spaghetti and chocolate chip cookies – but we didn’t have much to say.

He said he’d phone me tonight, when we’ll probably have even less to say. But I like saying nothing to Sean.


Wednesday, June 2, 1982

1 PM. I didn’t get much sleep last night, so I came home today directly after I had my class write process analysis essays. It was a perfect morning to climb back into bed: a dark, very rainy day. I put on the radio and let myself drift into a kind of half-sleep.

Sean called late last night and we ended up speaking for two hours. He had his high school awards dinner last night, and he got all dressed up; so did his mother and his aunt, who came over for the big occasion.

But then Sean felt he didn’t want to go: his suit was wrinkled, his hair was messed up, he felt he looked terrible.

Although he wouldn’t come out and say there was something wrong, I felt he was in pain.

He told me he read a story in Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog and it upset him – “because you’re so original – it’s like you’re a brilliant blue and I’m just beige.”

Oh, Sean, I said, that’s not true. I explained that while it doesn’t make any difference in our relationship, the years I’ve got on him just provide me with more experience and knowledge.

I felt pompous, but I also had to tell him how special he is to me: “You’re intelligent – and resourceful – and strong – and silly – and more.” We talked so much.

I told Sean: “You think I like you only because I don’t know the real you, and if I did, I’d hate you. But you’re wrong: I know the real Sean.” I said his problems were ones of self-image, of not being able to express anger, and not being able to say no.

Sean agreed, especially about not being able to say no. He told me how a guy cruised him at BCC and how he agreed to have sex with the guy in a bathroom and how he hated it because the only words spoken were a final “Have a nice day.”

It’s funny how my judgmental side melted away. I said, “Well, you should not have done it, but only because it made you feel bad about yourself,” and Sean said he rebuffed the guy’s overtures after that.

He told me about Chris, the guy in Harrisburg who was his Mensa pen-pal and whom Sean met last summer at a motel in South Carolina (halfway between where they lived) and how they would write to each other every day and spend expensive minutes on the phone and how Sean wanted to write a story using both their letters but that Chris threw Sean’s letters away.

He told me how he didn’t know what he was going to do with his life, and I replied that sooner or later his life would know what to do with him.

“You’re terrific,” I said. “I can’t tell you how I feel about you in detail because it’ll get sloppy, but don’t you trust me when I tell you you’re terrific?”

“No.”

“Why not?” I said. “I should know a terrific person. After all, aren’t I terrific?”

“You’re fabulous.”

“See?” I said. I told him I’d never met anyone like him, and he told me I was unique.

“Lucky for the world,” I replied.

And we gabbed about tennis (he once had a terrific serve but he lost it) and baseball (I had just watched the Yankees lose) and Shakespeare (I had been reading the sonnets) and other ephemera.

“I hope I’m giving you something in return for what you’ve given me,” I told Sean.

“I feel I’m getting as much as I give,” he said.

Finally, at 1 AM or so, we were reduced to sleepy comments. I truthfully told Sean that he was the only one in the world whom I would let keep me on the phone that long when I had to get up at 6:45 AM the next day.

I barely slept, but every dream was about Sean: the two of us neighbors back in Brooklyn; walking into a Jerry Lewis movie when we wanted to see the feature next door, Making Love; my protecting him from a hostile father.

These days are precious.


Thursday, June 3, 1982

3 PM. Three days into the hurricane season, we’re already on our first hurricane watch: for Alberto, which is menacing the Keys and the Gulf Coast but which will probably dump some rain here, too. After two straight weeks of rain, I’m getting pretty sick of it, and so is everyone else; it’s like cabin fever during snow up North.

I hope we don’t get hit hard – at the supermarket this afternoon, everyone and her brother-in-law were buying up groceries and supplies – although I wouldn’t mind school being canceled tomorrow night. I bet few people will show up anyway.

Last night’s class was a near-disaster: either because of the weather or the poetry, my students seemed numbed. Sean and I went out to Burger King after class; in the car he kept massaging my shoulders and it was making me nervous because I felt so good I thought I might have an accident.

Sean called twice today, once before he went to his allergist, and then after he returned home, to thank me for the graduation card he’d found in the mail. But he didn’t come over.

“It’s your birthday tomorrow,” he said, reminding me I’ll be 31. I spent part of the afternoon looking at old photos. I definitely look older these days, but I think I’m just as good-looking as I always was. All I need to do is lose twenty pounds.

(I like the way he says it: as if it’s easy!)

Mrs. Angstrom booked me into Wynmoor Village for Labor Day weekend, and I’ll get $85 for an hour show. “They’re expecting you to be very funny!” she said. “Don’t disappoint me or them!”

Oy vey. So this is show biz? We’ll see if it’s a disaster. At the very least, I’ll learn something – probably that I should stick to my typewriter. (In the future, will people say, “stick to my word processor”?)

Josh and I had a good long talk again; he read me a letter he wrote Mink Stole after seeing her in the Theatre of the Ridiculous. With Simon in San Francisco and apparently in a blissful duprass with his wife, Josh must be very lonely, especially since there aren’t any women in his life.

Josh is the person I feel most awkward about telling about my relationship with Sean – but I don’t think he’ll take it too badly. Still, I remember how freaked out he was about Alan Cooper. Today I saw an old photo of Alan, along with photos of Mark, Scott, Avis, Elspeth, Vito and all my old Brooklyn College friends.

Matthew Paris’s Brooklyn College Alumni Literary Review arrived: a great magazine, with an I.B. Singer interview, a memoir of Chester Kallman, work by Jackson Mac Low, and even two poems by Anna Amatuzio (very like her: schoolgirlish but disarmingly charming).

My class this morning went okay; I’ll leave grading their papers to the weekend. At Mom’s, I gave her $200 to pay my share of long distance phone calls (I’ve got to cut down).

Mom also fed me cheesecake and returned my laundry. She said Marc quit working for Jay because it was creating an awkward situation and could only lead to a strain between next-door neighbors.

Hey, Rich: tomorrow you’ll be over thirty and nobody’ll trust you anymore. In no way do I feel 31. I feel younger than I did last year and the year before that. Of course it’s all mood swings anyway.

I sent a $90 deposit to VCCA and a letter informing Ragdale that I won’t be coming. Just two weeks to go to the end of this term, and then I leave Florida for the whole summer.


Friday, June 4, 1982

4 PM. It’s a damned good birthday – thanks mostly to Sean.

Last night I was too dizzy to sleep. I reread Emerson’s “Experience” and watched David Letterman and woke up at 5 AM, thinking about my career. I think I might be interested in doing something more than writing, and perhaps performing is a good way to start a new career.

About fiction, I feel this: Suppose I set down and work hard on a literary novel. The best I can probably hope for is to have it published by Knopf or Random House like Scott Sommer, Jane DeLynn and Debby Mayer did.

I might make some decent money, though I probably wouldn’t get rich. And I might get some nice reviews, but I’ve already had them.

How many readers would I get? Probably not many. I want to reach people, and I don’t know that writing “serious” literary fiction will get me that.

The world is changing: computers, cable TV, past-less young people who have no idea when the American Revolution began. (No one in class yesterday could come up with 1776.)

There have to be new ways to approach things. Would Joyce or Kafka or Virginia Woolf be writing fiction if they were alive today? Anyway, I’m open to new directions.

Hurricane Alberto died during the night and didn’t cause us a peep of trouble. I had a pretty good, if rambling, class this morning; when I got out, the department secretary gave me a phone message from Sean to call him.

He asked me if I wanted to come over after his mother left for work. I was feeling crummy – tired, ugly, and worn out – but I said I would.

Before I did, I stopped off at my parents’ for a little while, and Mom and Marc gave me their birthday cards they’d bought. Mom and Dad gave me forty dollars.

When I got to Sean’s house, an old brick house on a large plot of land, he kissed me when I came in and his dogs Rusty and Tina started jumping all over me.

He went to the refrigerator and brought out a Carvel cake that read “HOPPI BERTHDAI RICHARD,” purposely misspelling it so I could “correct” it. I was totally stunned.

Next, between kisses, he handed me a birthday card with a page-by-page poem:

I wondered what kind of present I could give
To somebody interesting like you
I thought about buying you a trip to Rome
But that would be much too expensive to do
So I thought and wondered what I could give
That I could possibly afford
I know I couldn’t give stockings or underwear
Because I knew you’d be terribly bored
Then suddenly I got a terrific idea
It’s something you can’t buy at the store
I’ll start with a hug then I’ll throw you on the rug
And we can finish your present on the floor.

Well, actually in the waterbed in Sean’s “apartment” out near the pool. I had a great time and I was glad I was able to be relaxed enough place to perform sexually in a strange place.

Sean is so damned affectionate, and I really felt loved.

It was nice to finally see Sean’s house; it made me feel closer to him. He made this birthday one I’ll remember as very, very pleasant.

When I got home, Sean called to say he’d gone over to his high school and picked up his diploma: “I done gradierated.” His mother walked in, so he got off so she could kvell.

Alice called just after I got her birthday card out of the mailbox, and I told her about Sean. She was shocked but approving, telling me that in his past Peter had many homosexual experiences.

Alice did express concern, a little, about my getting into trouble at school. But she said, “I’m happy for you.” I feel relieved, and yet I also feel strange. I’m thirty-one years old.


Saturday, June 5, 1982

Midnight. Before class last night, I went over to my parents’, where I saw Dad and Jonathan, who also wished me happy birthday. I sort of wished I could tell them about the misspelled cake that Sean had gotten for me.

Sean is a very important part of my life right now, and it would be nice to be able to be totally open about my relationship with him. To me, it seems as though it’s so normal.

But then I forget how homosexuality per se is abhorrent to some people. One student wrote about Truman Capote in his paper: “While I don’t condemn homosexuality, there are few things more pathetic than an old gay man.”

At work, Claudia, the English department secretary, asked me how long I was going to hold out before getting married, and on the phone tonight Grandpa Herb said that Grandma Ethel is glad I’m happy but would like to see me married.

I would love not be have to pretend anymore.

We had a decent class last night, and afterwards I asked Sean to come to the movies with me. We went to the 10 PM show of Poltergeist at Inverrary; it was a scary movie with good special effects. At one point Sean and I grabbed hands out of fright.

I drove Sean back to his car at the college as my birthday ended. One of his friends saw us together, and Sean and I agreed we’ve got to be more discreet.

I just refuse to believe that we’re doing anything wrong.

I even got a little upset because at first Sean wanted to use Jeff to tell his mother that Sean was out with him; finally, Sean simply told her that he was going to the movies after class.

Funny, I always knew that it would happen the way it did: I’d be about thirty and established in a career and respected and respectable, and I’d meet a guy who’d like me for what I was; we’d fall in love and I’d get close to him and finally feel comfortable about being gay.

Whatever happens, I will always love Sean. I’ll never forget arriving at his house yesterday and his putting on the stereo and my hearing some rock birthday song; seeing Sean get the cake out of the refrigerator and giving me that funny, warm card; and the hugs he gave me.

I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve Sean, but somebody up there must be on my side.

I didn’t fall asleep until 2 AM, but I didn’t get out of bed until after 5 PM today. It was raining hard, and I was tired and kept falling back asleep. It felt wonderful to be able to do nothing all day but lie in bed.

I read and listened to music and slept and thought about my life and how, even if I dread tomorrow, my life still will have been ten times better than I ever could have hoped for. I’ve had everything I’ve ever wanted. Sometimes I even fantasize about dying now because it would be perfect to die so happy. Enough.

When I got to my parents’ this evening, a large batch of mail was awaiting me. First was a huge package from Paul Fericano, which I figured contained copies of his new book, Commercial Break.

But each wrapper contained another wrapper and another, and by the time Mom and I got to the bottom, we found a huge framed photo of Frank Sinatra, which Paul signed Richie – Happy Birthday and thanks for the hat! – Regards, Frank.

That Fericano! What a joker! It gave me (and Mom) the best laugh of the weekend. I also got a birthday card from Gary and one from my grandparents with a $20 check. There was an acceptance of a story from a New Hampshire magazine, Hubris, and the new issues of Publishers Weekly, Writers Digest and The Authors Guild Bulletin.

But the most important piece of mail was a package and letter from Ed Hogan. He said that Zephyr Press had finally decided on the stories for the book, which they view as a 70-page perfect-bound softcover selling for $4.95.

The fourteen stories they picked surprised me a little: many of them seem slight to me; a number are very short; and few are at all humorous. But it will be another side of me.

Ed enclosed a contract: I’ll get ten per cent of the print run, expected to be 1,000 copies. They’ll probably have the book out by early fall and will hold a publication party at the Eighth Street Bookshop in the Village in October, at a time when Miriam and I can both attend.

(I intend to ask Sean to accompany me to New York, with no strings attached. It would make a nice eighteenth birthday present for him, even if we’re no longer seeing each other.)

Like so much of my life these days, it all sounds too good to be true. With this book – no title has been selected yet – and my South Florida stories chapbook coming out in the fall, it will look as if I’m really rolling with my writing career.

Of course it’s isn’t true, but then, perceptions of success (and everything else) are more important than success itself – at least as far as other people are concerned. And I’m convinced I still have a crackerjack collection (hardcover, full-length) from the remainder of my uncollected stories.

Lucky me.


Sunday, June 6, 1982

9 PM. I slept well but made sure I wouldn’t sleep all day today even if it was another rainy day. I spent the day taking care of business: marking 25 comp essays, exercising, getting all my papers together, and shopping. Also, I read the Sunday newspapers, spoke to Sean and to my mother, and called Josh.

I have only about ten days left in this apartment, and it’s going to be hard to leave a place where I’ve been so happy. Perhaps the Maynards won’t be able to rent it and in August I can have it again.

I guess I should give the obligatory looking-back over my thirtieth year. It was a year when I really grew up. I got my first grant. I got my first full-time teaching job. I made a home for myself in Florida. Just when I thought it would never happen, I began a sexual/romantic relationship with a guy.

I had the fun and experience of being a real political candidate. I got loads of publicity. My second hardcover book was published, as was a new edition of Disjointed Fictions. I enjoyed my stay at VCCA and made new friends in Virginia.

In Florida, there were lots of visits by my friends. I’m a better traveler now (we’ll see how well I fly in two weeks). I got my first credit cards and managed to pay all my bills without parental help.

My grandmother died, but I felt I learned something from her death. My brothers both seem to be doing better than they were a year ago. My parents are healthy. My other grandparents are at least still alive.

I began to feel more at ease in front of an audience. I was hardly ever ill. I can’t imagine how being 30 could have been better than it was. Being 31 will probably be much more difficult, and I hope I’m ready for it.

I almost regret leaving “home” – Florida – for the next eight weeks, but I feel I’ve got to refresh myself for another year at Broward Community College. If I go to New York in the fall, I’ll stay home at Christmas; I don’t want to experience the winter again.

Everyone – Teresa, Josh, Grandpa Herb – says New York is still rainy and cold.


Monday, June 7, 1982

3 PM. The sun finally came out today. It’s also very hot, and of course, my car’s air conditioner would pick today to break down. That makes it very hard for me to get things done during the day, and it will make it very difficult indeed when I start having to move furniture and books to the warehouse before I leave.

I think I’m going to cancel my oral surgery for Friday and take my chances with my wisdom tooth until I return in August; that will give me more time. Actually, everything will probably get done.

I’ve put all my books in cartons, and I’ll take them over to my office at school; the copies of Dog and Hitler, I’ll keep at Mom’s house. I’ve got to pack the clothing away and decide what I’ll be taking with me on my trip.

Today I did spend an hour in the sun; I could have stayed out longer, but I’m 31 now and I can see creases in my face and I’m not crazy about eventually getting skin cancer.

Last night I watched the Tony Awards, then fidgeted until finally falling asleep at 2 AM or so. This morning I went to BCC, taught my class cause-and-effect, and then I got the mail in Davie.

Ed wrote that I’ll be able to buy copies of the Zephyr Press book at half-price after I use up or sell my hundred copies; he also suggested we have a reading in Boston.

Crad wrote that street sales in Toronto are going very slowly, but he still intends to sell out his new book – and he will try selling in Rockefeller Center this summer.

I found an article in yesterday’s Neighbors section of the Herald mentioning my winning the Berkeley Poets Cooperative fiction contest. They called me “the author of the novel With Hitler in New York and a candidate in last March’s election for Davie Town Council.”

I spoke to Sean, whose half-sister answered the phone and said he was “stuffing his face” when I called. We had a nice little chat.

I contrast my even-keel relationship with Sean to Teresa’s turbulent romance with Doug. From what she told me, it seems all they ever do is hurt and abuse one another, play mind- and power-games, and waste energy hanging up on each other, standing each other up, and slamming doors.

I am beginning to think Teresa has a problem with relationships. Her job, she says, is terrible because the Abrams people won’t let her do anything (“They all try to reinvent the wheel”) and are very nervous about making errors; consequently, they’re paying her a lot of money to be a glorified clerical worker.

She’d almost like to take up some offers with other statewide candidates, but she’d rather stay because Abrams has money and he’s going to win reelection as Attorney General. Yesterday was the Puerto Rican Day parade, and Teresa was not looking forward to being in it.

Though Teresa has always landed on her feet before, I’m worried that her very hot temper will eventually hurt her career; sometimes she can be abrasive with people, and politics is a game in which you’ve got to act like everyone’s future ally as well as a possible opponent. But maybe I’m wrong, and if you make the right enemies, you’ll end up sitting pretty.

I feel somewhat guilty because I don’t have much work to do; I have no papers to grade nor lessons to plan, and I keep thinking I shouldn’t be this relaxed.


Tuesday, June 8, 1982

7 PM. There are just ten days left for me in this condo. I’ve been so happy here, I’m going to find it difficult to leave. But it’s hot now, and summer would be empty here. Curiously, I’m going to miss teaching; I’ve thrived on a full-time job.

As I told Sean during one of our phone talks today as we were both struggling with writing – he with an essay on poetry due tomorrow and I with the germ of a short story, “A BASIC Romance” – I could never be a full-time writer. Once I thought that was what I wanted, but no longer. I’m changing my goals.

“Are you ready to meet the challenge of the 1980s?” I asked Sean, jokingly. But I do think a lot about the future. Like so many people, fiction writers seem to be generals fighting the last war.

Maybe one reason it’s hard for me to write fiction is that I don’t see what the point of it is. Old assumptions about literature may not hold in the face of the new information revolution and advanced technology.

I’m beginning to wonder if anyone will read Joyce or Hemingway in twenty years – anyone but the kind of specialists who read 17th-century literature today.

As for college teaching, it’s not exactly a dead-end job but it’s darn close. Now the graduate schools are drying up; there have been recent articles in the Times, Wall Street Journal and Newsweek on the brain drain out of academia.

Obviously, the situation in colleges will remain bleak until about 1998 when the echo baby boomlet turns 17 and 18. But by then, I wonder, will colleges be interested in hiring someone who’s 47, as I will be?

Things are changing swiftly. I want to learn all about computers and cable TV and see how I can use that as a writer and a teacher. Oh, who knows?

I just figure if I read widely – and the fact that I go to nonfiction rather than fiction to tell me about the world today says a lot – and keep myself open to new ideas and options, that I’ll get somewhere eventually. Of course, I’m happy right now where I am, but the world can’t stand still.

*

It’s now 9:30 PM, and I’ve just been on the phone with Sean for a long time. He was talking about how he sees songs in terms of video and was telling me about an idea he had for videotaping this punky version of “It’s My Party.”

Just as I was about to say that maybe he should go into video as a career, Sean said the same thing – and then added, “But I’d probably be no good at it.” I told him that he’s bright, creative – he thought up a book title and concept, The Dead Cat Songbook – and he’s hard-working, and there was no reason why he couldn’t do well in video or anything else.

“And it wouldn’t be so bad to fail at something,” I told him. “At least you know you tried.”

We talked a little more, and he hung up, saying he felt “beige” and depressed. “I hope I’m not, you know, bad for you,” I said, tears coming to my eyes, “because that’s not what I want . . . I love you.”

He didn’t say it back. First of all, his mother was in the room, but he’s never said “I love you” to me when we’re alone, either, and I don’t care. What bothers me is the trouble Sean seems to have in accepting my love.

I wish he had a better opinion of himself because he is terrific. Look: as Alice said, I wouldn’t waste my time on just any seventeen-year-old kid; he’d have to be special. Maybe not as special as I think Sean is, but he’s a good person: kindly, intelligent, attractive, clever and sweet as the fresh sugar cane from Publix that I’ve got in my refrigerator.

Obviously our relationship is not exactly equal, but I think I try to treat Sean as my peer in ways that we are peers. He lacks self-confidence, and in that respect he reminds me of Ronna back when I fell in love with her.


Wednesday, June 9, 1982

11 AM. With my car’s air-conditioning on the blink, it’s almost impossible to drive during the heat of the day. So I’m pretty much confined to home for most of the day, and that’s not unpleasant.

I canceled my oral surgery for Friday, and except for marking papers, I’ll have a great deal of free time for the next week – until the last couple of hectic days with the end of the term and moving.

Late last night, Sean called again, waking me up. He had been drinking with his mother. Mrs. Alving always sounds so cheerful, I wonder whether she’s an alcoholic, and I worry about Sean’s drinking. He is only 17, after all.

As much as I love Sean, I think that my going away next week will do us both good. I can’t let him get dependent upon me, for both our sakes. Maybe we’ve helped each other to the limit that we can. I need time away to sort out what’s happened.

One thing I know, and for which I’ll never forget Sean: he’s opened me up sexually. Now, especially with this hot weather and all the almost-naked guys bopping around Broward County, I will never be able to go back to being celibate. Sex is too important.

Odd: I almost had to stop myself from saying, “I’ll never forgive Sean” for opening me up sexually. That, too, I guess. Well, there will be a whole new set of problems coming my way now. We shall see if they will be worth it.

Yesterday morning I stopped off at my parents’ house and I found Dad home with a bad back; he threw it out putting on his socks. When Jonathan came home, I realized how skinny he’s become: it was a shock.

After Jonathan left for school, Dad said he’s worried that Jonathan is becoming anorectic. He eats no meat, fish, poultry or even eggs, and he’s gotten into the habit of skipping meals.

The other night in a restaurant, he became ill because he ate after fasting all day. Mom said Jonathan’s always had problems with his body image, as shown by his compulsive bodybuilding in the past, and of course Jonathan has always tended toward being rigid and fanatical.

Now he thinks that Mom and Dad are gluttons, and when Marc gently told him that he doesn’t look good at 102 pounds, Jonathan blew up at him.

Of course, Jonathan may be doing something healthy. Doctors now say undernourishment could be a key to longevity.

Last night I dreamed about Leon for the first time in years; I wonder whatever happened to him. My 8 AM class went to the library this morning, so I didn’t have to work very hard. Tonight in the lit class, we’ll go over A Doll’s House.

I’ve decided to stay out of the sun: it’s just not worth it to chance skin cancer. I’ve been so sunburned in the past, and it just accumulates and raises the chances of cancer.

Today’s mail brought letters from Lola Szladits, who’s working very hard at the Berg Collection; Linda Lerner (she can’t apply for a job here at BCC, as I suggested, “because I would have a breakdown if I left New York”); Janet Burroway, thanking me for my comments on her textbook; and a contract from Eve Angstom’s “Talented Scouts” for the Labor Day gig at Wynmoor Village.

I hope New York will be cooler; I suppose it’s bound to be. Feeling on edge today, I probably need a more structured day of activities.


Thursday, June 10, 1982

8 PM. It’s difficult for me to believe that I’ll be leaving Florida in little more than a week. I almost feel like canceling the trip and the move – but I know that a change will be good for me.

Even if the summer turns out to be a depressing disaster, at least I’ll be happy to be home again next August. Last summer I traveled so much from place to place – New York, Florida, New Orleans, D.C., Virginia – but in the last six months I’ve been a homebody, and I’ve gotten accustomed to my routines, even as crazy a routine as this term’s.

I have a zillion things to do before I leave, and it seems that I’m not going to get a chance to do them all. I spent yesterday reading, playing with the computer, lifting weights, and talking to Sean after he came back from driving a friend to the West Palm Beach airport.

Sean didn’t finish the paper on time, so he decided not to come to class and said he’d meet me – and hand in the paper – afterwards. He’s a very slow writer, and I think that writing for me is even harder than writing for him.

Class went well last night, although I suspect most of the class hadn’t read A Doll’s House. Sure enough, Sean was waiting in my office at 9:30 PM. We talked, and he played me a tape of a quirky version of “It’s My Party,” and dangerous as it was, I hugged him.

When I arrived home, he called and we had our usual late-night chat. This morning, after a class summing up the term paper and finishing our textbook, I left BCC for home. I hadn’t slept enough, so I crawled back into bed and stayed there for hours.

Sean arrived at 2 PM, and I immediately started messing around with him. It’s not always lust; sometimes it’s just affection expressed physically. Sean is the first person I’ve been with who’s taught me how to be a toucher.

Of course, boys will be boys, and we ended up making love. It was slow, fast, sweet, funny, silly, hot, tight, tickly and full of love.

I came twice, Sean once; he didn’t seem particularly upset that I couldn’t bring him to orgasm a second time, so I didn’t let it worry me.

Along with the sex comes a verbal intimacy that you don’t really have with platonic friends, no matter how close you may be. Leaving Sean may be the hardest thing I’ll have to face next week.

Of course, it won’t be easy to leave this apartment, either: it’s been the happiest home I’ve ever had. I’m neurotically scared that because the past six months have been so glorious, I’m going to have to pay for it with real bad luck and lots of pain.

But I’m trying to get ready for it. Perhaps in the next few months, my life will fall apart. I could lose my job at BCC; for some reason, I just don’t feel secure about it, even if I have little justification to be concerned. I also could become ill – or someone in my family might get sick or die. Well, that’s the worst; the rest I think I could survive.

I don’t expect to stay with Sean, but I hope our relationship doesn’t end badly, with hard feelings. I don’t expect much to happen career-wise; even if the Zephyr Press book falls through, I’ll have done okay in 1982. My career expectations have been lowered.

The world, of course, is in bad shape, with Israel’s invasion of Lebanon possibly sparking a war in the Middle East; with the bloody Falklands/Malvinas War; Iran vs. Iraq; and the U.S. in a depression, according to the majority of Americans in the latest Harris poll.

I’ve got optimism for the long run, though: if we don’t end up nuking ourselves off the planet, I bet the late 1980s will be a much better time, due to technology, the inevitability of demographics, and a return to the neighborhoods.TC mark

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