A Young Writer’s Diary Entries From Late May, 1984


Monday, May 21, 1984

6 PM. I’m supposed to meet Pete Cherches and Mark Leyner in the Village tonight.

Last evening I stopped off on 23rd Street to bring Mikey some calamine lotion and Aveeno soap for his chicken pox after he’d told me that he’d been unable to get the stuff.

I woke him up when I rang the bell and didn’t stay too long; he did look pretty sick and spotty.

Taking the B train over the Manhattan Bridge, I saw I was about an hour early for Susan Mernit’s party, so instead of transferring for the D at DeKalb, I continued on with the B down Fourth Avenue and when it goes above ground on New Utrecht Avenue.

There was something touching about seeing old Brooklyn in the rain like that. Watching two boys about 17 or 18 and their easy, carefree manner, I thought about myself at that age, and that fifteen years ago, in 1969, I rode subways in order to cure myself of agoraphobia. A couple of tears came to my eyes.

I got off at 62nd Street and transferred to the N – the Sea Beach Line – enjoying the wait outside in the warm rain. Yes, even Brooklyn can be beautiful.

The rain had let up by the time I backtracked and got off the D at Seventh Avenue. Ringing the bell at Sterling Place, I noticed another apartment like the “Mernit/Jarrod” one, with two names, “Markowitz/Federman.”

I later discovered, as I’d assumed, that this was Josh’s old roommate Robbie, who now works for the Board of Ed, and Rose, his pianist girlfriend, who now has quite a career as a musician, according to Susan.

Spencer and Susan both greeted me effusively even though I was the first guest and probably a trifle early (a bad habit).

Sheila, who waitressed with Susan last year at Bread Loaf and a former Baltimore special ed teacher now in TA’ing at NYU, soon arrived with a guy who does comedy videos.

Sheila still hasn’t had her first fiction published, so I gave her some tips for submitting and also told her to tell her teacher/adviser E.L. Doctorow that I hoped he’d forgiven me for the “Weird Sex Lives of Jewish-American Novelists” prank.

I especially wanted to meet Barbara Baracks and her lover Robin Epstein, but I wish I’d had more of a chance to talk with them at greater length.

Barbara, who used to publish the little magazine Big Deal, teaches all over for Teachers and Writers Collaborative and for Empire State College, which rips off its adjuncts.

Barbara got drunk almost immediately and was pretty funny, but her state precluded serious conversation.

Robin, whose play (written with Sarah Schulman) Art Failures was produced off-off-Broadway, seems extremely funny; she has the same sense of the absurd that I do and wants to get her name onto Page Six of the Post as I used to.

Susan’s film Bella came on the TV “just like a regular show with commercials,” and we toasted it with champagne and knishes from Mrs. Stahl’s in Brighton Beach.

Bella is a heartwarming little film, very good for a first effort by Susan and her director brother-in-law Mark. There was a still from it in yesterday’s Times Arts and Leisure section and it was listed as a “highlight” in the Times’ TV guide.

After the show ended, we all talked for an hour or so.

Susan was flying to Lynchburg today, and she’s probably eating dinner at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts right at this moment. This stay she plans to work less and have more fun. It will be her first stay at VCCA without me, Susan said.

I got a lift uptown with Susan’s friend Hardy, a blonde Amazon of a sportswriter and her stockbroker/preppie/yacht-racer husband Jeff. They don’t like to give their last name, but Susan once told me privately they’re duPonts.

It made me feel nostalgic as we drove up Flatbush Avenue, turned on Tillary for the Brooklyn Bridge, and rode up the FDR Drive to 61st Street and then up York Avenue past New York Hospital. I must have made that drive a thousand times.

The duPonts let me off at Madison and 79th before going into their building’s garage, and I took a cab home, only to find that I was once again unable to get to sleep until 4 AM.

Up at 11 AM, I called Brad, who’d left a message on the machine last evening. His phone had been knocked out in the big storm last night and had just started working when I got through.

Brad said he felt a bit guilty because he was in Miami Beach most of January, when his grandmother suffered a severe heart attack. He said he had thought of me often.

When Mrs. Miller suffered another, presumably life-threatening, heart attack in April, he and his sisters came down for nine days and stayed in West Broward while his grandmother was in Pembroke Pines Hospital – right on University Drive!

I could have gone to see them so easily had he called me. Brad’s grandmother managed to survive but now she’s a “cardiac cripple” in Miami Beach.

Right after I hung up with Brad, who says he’s working as a driving instructor these days but is looking for work in health care again, I got a call from my former BCC student Larry Gilbert. He’s staying in the Village and I agreed to meet him at Sheridan Square for a long walk.

We ended up going all over the West Village and Soho, up the East Village to Union Square and finally stopping for lunch at Brownie’s, near where Dad’s factory/showroom used to be.

Larry’s about 27, divorced, a product of Long Beach and a Jewish garment-center upbringing. Of course, he was easy for me to spot in Florida because he stuck out so much among my BCC students. He was married to a St. Mark’s poet and worked as a carpenter in a frame store.

Larry’s well-connected enough so that he knows the usual number of painters, stand-up comics (he knew who Bob Wachs, Justin’s boss, was, from their Comic Strip club days) and politicos (he’s staying with the head of Friends of Mario Cuomo, Pat, who certainly knows Teresa).

Larry likes Broward Community College because it’s easy and there are a lot of blondes he can try to pick up, but once he graduates this December, he’s definitely returning to Manhattan. As we sat on a bench in Washington Square, he said, “It’s the only place to live.”

I enjoyed spending three hours with Larry. He’s going back for the second summer session term, but I’ll probably see him again before he leaves.

Back home, I exercised with some 15-pound dumbbells I bought and looked at the mail Mom forwarded: a nice note from Mike Winerip of the Times, but not much else of consequence.

I called Grandma Ethel, who said she was too ill to go to her grandnephew’s bar mitzvah services on Saturday but who did go to the affair at the temple yesterday.

Because the bar mitzvah boy’s grandparents, Aunt Claire and Uncle Sidney, were not there, Grandma Ethel was asked to light a candle, and that depressed her because her sister is so ill – Aunt Claire now weighs only 115 pounds – and because Grandpa Herb is dead.

(Larry said he’s got a dying grandfather in Forest Hills.)

Grandma said that Randy’s wife Karen had asked about me and my writing career and that Aunt Rose, overhearing this, said, “In Florida you can’t read a paper without seeing Richard’s picture in it.”

Today’s been an utterly gorgeous day; it’s been in the mid-70°s and sunny. Things are great.

Tuesday, May 22, 1984

7 PM in Rockaway. Last night I got to the Cottonwood Cafe on Bleecker Street (but very far west) at 8:30 PM and I waited for the others to arrive.

Pete soon showed up with Donna, his friend whom I met last year, a pretty woman who’s been working for the City Planning Commission and attending the MFA program at Brooklyn, where Jonathan Baumbach says she’s his best student.

Mark Leyner and his wife of a week, Arleen Portada, came from Hoboken, and we were seated at about 9:30 PM.

The restaurant served good food – I had fine chicken-fried steak with pinto beans, mashed potatoes and cornbread – and the company was terrific.

Pete presented Mark and Arleen an album of their wedding: cute crayon drawings in his inimitable style.

Everyone seemed in a good mood; obviously, they’re all close friends, but they made me feel comfortable among them.

There was much talk about writing – it seems all of us have pretty good writers’ blocks going – and the Fiction Collective. Mark and Donna told me that the Collective’s offices are now back on the BC campus, and I heard some gossip.

Mark’s kind of fed up with Baumbach for pushing his fifth book through, and we agreed that the charges leveled against the Collective – mainly that they’re precious academics out of touch with the real world – are basically sound.

Donna said that Baumbach once referred to me as one of the MFA program’s “successes” and he didn’t seem unduly upset with me. Mark invited all of us to submit manuscripts to the new Fiction Collective anthology on the order of Statements (but with a different title).

We talked about other stuff, of course, and it was great fun to be out with friends: so different from the monkish life I live in Florida. I took the subway uptown – I’m a real pro by now – and got home at midnight.

Unable to sleep again, I read Tuesday’s Times, which I’d picked up at the 86th and Broadway newsstand, and finally drifted off after 4 AM.

Up at 9 AM, I went uptown on the Broadway local to 191st Street; I had never taken the train beyond Columbia/116th Street before.

In a strange part of town, in a very hilly section east of the Cloisters, I went to the Fort George post office and filled out an application for a post office box.

I figure it will come in handy to have a Manhattan mailing address, and maybe it’s more than that: I want to keep a vestige of my identity as a New Yorker. I figured I would have a better chance of getting a postal box in a distant neighborhood where there would not be such a waiting list.

Walking up Nagle Street to the Dyckman Street elevated subway stop, I enjoyed the warm, sunny morning. The trees were so green, it really made me happy.

Then, back at Teresa’s, I packed up for Rockaway, stopping off at Zabar’s to bring Grandma Ethel some knishes and croissants.

The ride to the Junction was okay – the car was air-conditioned – and the bus ride down Flatbush Avenue and Avenue N brought back many memories.

After getting my Triavil refilled at Deutsch Pharmacy, I walked up East 56th Street and realized that the old neighborhood is still beautiful.

In front of one old house, some Asian men were washing a car, and since the Wagners’ door next door was open, I rang the bell.

Evie was glad to see me and I sat in her kitchen and chatted for half an hour with her and Scott, who’s just home from his sophomore year at Lehigh. Evie wanted to know all about my family and said she’d read about me in the papers.

After a quick pizza slice at the Kings Plaza Sbarro’s, I took the bus to Rockaway, getting here at 3:30 PM.

Grandma Ethel asked me if, when passing the house on East 56th Street, I still felt as if it was mine; I said not really. It’s been nearly five years since I lived there, and I’ve been in so many places since.

Grandma Ethel seemed more cheerful than usual; she looked a little better too, probably a result of getting out to see people at the bar mitzvah on Sunday. I reminded Grandma that my own bar mitzvah was exactly twenty years ago at the end of May. She’s out playing cards now.

My plans are firming up: I’m definitely going back to Florida in early August to see if I can get a full-time teaching job at BCC or elsewhere. If not, I’ll move back to New York.

Because the terms up here don’t begin until September, I have the luxury of trying for adjunct courses here after I try Florida.

Thursday, May 24, 1984

9 PM. I’ve just returned from the West Village, where I met Josh for some shopping and dinner at The Bagel, which still has great charcoal-broiled burgers with sweet onions.

The Village is much different from the way it was fifteen years ago, when I first discovered West 8th Street and Washington Square, but it still has that invigorating mix of varied people roaming the streets.

The sign on top of the bank at Sixth Avenue said it was 75°, and of course, an hour ago, it was still light out. Everything reminded me of many happy summer New York evenings in the past.

Last night, I slept wonderfully at the beach, dreaming great stuff about Florida and Broward Community College.

Awake at 9 AM, I quickly got up and around, kissed Grandma goodbye, and found what I think is the best way out of Rockaway: the Q53 bus right outside Grandma’s house to Jackson Heights, and then a quick train ride into Manhattan.

It has the bonus of letting me see parts of Queens, like Howard Beach, Woodhaven and Rego Park, though all of those neighborhoods look pretty much the same.

Of all the messages on the answering machine, the only clear one was Ronna’s, and she said Teresa’s outgoing message was very garbled, so I made a new one myself.

I phoned Ronna and made arrangements to meet her at work for lunch at 1:30 PM. She said she was having a hectic “high blood pressure” day at the office, so she was glad to go out for a while.

Because it was so warm and sunny, I suggested we sit outdoors at The Opera Espresso, and we had a fine time. Ronna’s busy these days, but I’m glad she took the time to see me; it’s always good to be with her.

She said she’ll take me out on my birthday, so that gives me something to look forward to. Back at the apartment, I worked out, watched my taped soap, and read the papers until Josh called at 5 PM.

He seemed a bit low-key this evening, but maybe he’s just been working hard. Being on vacation, I forget – the way Florida tourists do when they are down there – that everyone living here has the strains and stresses of their jobs.

Still, Josh seemed glad that he’s close to finishing the detective novel he’s been working on for the past two years. Also, a fairly well-known cartoonist has volunteered his services to work as art director for the magazine.

Tom writes from New Orleans that he’ll be here on June 7. He enclosed a fine feature article entitled “Top Teachers,” giving him top billing in the Times-Picayune’s Lifestyle section as the city’s Teacher of the Year.

Patrick wrote that Bill Maxwell has resigned, leaving three full-time positions at South Campus that have to be filled, along with the other position that has to go to a minority.

It’s pretty clear that Patrick and Greg will get two of the three positions, but I’m going to apply for the job, too – if only to equal Patrick’s record for being turned down for positions at two BCC campuses.

Rick writes about loads of people in their twenties with book contracts and says that we’re being eclipsed by a younger, more professional generation of writers. Perhaps that’s temporarily true.

Or maybe those of us in our early thirties will permanently be a “lost generation,” not only in academia but in publishing and other fields.

Yet while I recognize the validity of Rick’s saying, about our generation, “There were just too many of us,” I can’t believe that won’t turn to our advantage in the future.

Last night, Grandma and I watched Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave on PBS (she said she never could have understood it if I hadn’t explained everything in simpler terms), and while the stuff about mass-based versus information-based society and the new technologies and choices is old news to me by now, I still think I’m well-placed for the future.

I’m very bright and extremely well-informed, I’ve got good writing and communication skills, and I have a broad liberal education. Toffler said that in the coming decades, the most valuable resource will be creative people.

I guess that’s why, in the face of very little to be hopeful about, I remain totally optimistic about my future, whether I remain a writer and a teacher or evolve into something else.

If this country would waste my talent, energy and experience, then there’s no hope for anyone.

Friday, May 25, 1984

It’s past midnight. Justin just left. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had thoughts of getting involved sexually with him, but tonight I realized that I’m not really attracted to Justin and that there should be something more important in a relationship than mere availability.

It didn’t feel right, and I trust my instincts.

Anyway, we had an easygoing evening together, talking about writing and the theater and bouncing ideas off one another.

I broke in my new Visa card from the Goldome Bank, which I’d applied for a few weeks ago, by taking Justin out to dinner at Szechuan Broadway and joining a video club (for $30, I get seven one-night stands with various movies).

Justin suggested I take out Barry Levinson’s Diner, which proved to be a fine film, personal and funny and very true. And it was pleasant to watch a movie while lying down on top of the bed.

Last night I had the worst insomnia I’ve had since I’ve been in New York. It started out as dizziness and it ended up with me – like Grandma Ethel – worrying for hours.

I felt I have no future, that I’m just knocking my head against the wall, etc.: in short, the usual helpless feelings.

But I’ve learned that these feelings are temporary and will fade eventually. Asleep at 4 AM, I didn’t awaken till 11 AM and didn’t get out till noon, when I started a wash and did some shopping.

The mail brought my first unemployment check for $250, covering the first two weeks of May, and I’ll send away the next claim card on Sunday.

Since my benefit year runs through the end of July, I should be able to collect five more $250 checks, giving me a better deal than that teaching job in Jersey I turned down.

Mom’s package from Florida included some credit card bills and the new Goldome Visa card with a credit line of $1000.

I knew that if I waited to apply for it till May, my credit report would list only those inquiries since January, of which there were none, so I wouldn’t get turned down for “too many inquiries.”

So far I’ve been managing the little money I have; I think it’s important for me to build relationships with banks, and the best way to do that is with credit cards.

At 3 PM, I went to Riverside Park and lay on the grass for an hour, trying to revive my tan and help clear up my face, which has gotten more zits than I need. Justin came over at 7 PM.

I’ve been in New York four weeks.

Saturday, May 26, 1984

7 PM. The air smells crisp with ozone after a thunderstorm that lasted an hour. Today was hot (about 85°), humid and mostly sunny, and I wore a t-shirt and shorts.

For a change, last night I did sleep well, and it felt luxurious to lay in bed until noon with the cool breeze from the window wafting me over as I listened to classical music on the radio.

Josh phoned and said I should meet him later, after he’d done some shopping, at the jazz department of Tower Records on Broadway and West 4th Street.

Today’s mail brought Deirdre’s long-awaited check for $600 for Teresa, which I deposited (while waiting for the machine, I read the entire New York Times), as well as a letter from Miriam (mostly about her sister’s wedding) and Wednesday’s Miami Herald (they finally straightened out my mail subscription).

At Times Square, I got Sunday’s Fort Lauderdale paper, which I read, along with the Chronicle of Higher Ed, in the Periodical Room of the 42nd Street library.

After I met Josh at the record store, we went to have salads at some coffee shop on Bleecker Street and then walked around for a while.

After that, we took the Broadway bus downtown to South Ferry. Ugly George, who videotapes women taking off their clothes, was sitting next to us with a mound of equipment.

Then we walked along the water to South Street Seaport, the Rouse Company’s New York answer to Boston’s Faneuil Hall and Baltimore’s Harborplace. Miami is to get one of these developments, downtown on Biscayne Bay.

Although I liked the restored early American architecture, the Seaport was a little too touristy for me; it seems out of place in Manhattan.

I walked Josh to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, but I didn’t feel like walking over it with him, so I caught the IRT uptown. And here I am.

I just watched the news while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I have no plans other than to get the Sunday Times when the rain lets up.

For me, as Miriam suggested in her letter, this past month in Manhattan has proved to be exactly what the spiritual healer ordered. While I haven’t written anything, I’ve been feeling very relaxed and I’ve done an awful lot of socializing.

Also, I’ve become accustomed to New York life to the point at which I barely notice the subway filth or the crazy bums running loose. By now, the smell of urine seems routine and familiar.

Would I move back if I could? The answer is “yes, but. . .”

In reality, I can’t afford to live the way I do here at Teresa’s apartment, and I don’t want to come to Manhattan until I can.

This is now a terrible city to be poor in – or even lower middle class. Outside of Park Slope or the Heights, there is nowhere in Brooklyn or Queens I’d want to live, and I’d greatly prefer the West Side because it’s so familiar.

Anyway, it will be years – if ever – before I’m well-off enough to return to New York on a permanent basis.

From leafing through the ads in the Chronicle, I think I could probably get a full-time job teaching at some community college in the Midwest, but I would be a lot worse off in Bumfuck, South Dakota, than I am in Florida.

So I do plan to apply to BCC again and to send résumés to other Florida community colleges.

Sunday, May 27, 1984

6 PM. It’s been a quiet Sunday. Last evening’s thunderstorms cooled things off.

Last night I went out to get the Sunday paper at around 8 PM, but the Times hadn’t arrived yet, so I walked up to 96th Street and back down to 86th, and then I got on the M104 bus down Broadway.

At 72nd Street, I saw the Times truck, so I got off, bought the paper and took the M5 bus, which goes up Riverside and stops right here on the corner of 85th.

By 11 PM, I’d read the whole paper, including the want ads, the real estate section, the TV guide and the wedding announcements, none of which is in the national edition I get in Florida.

Although I had trouble sleeping, I figured that to get up at 9 AM, I didn’t have to go to sleep before 1 AM. After a couple of nice dreams, I stayed up a while and listened to some new music on WNYC before drifting off again.

Following a decent interval after breakfast, I bussed crosstown to the 92nd Street Y, where I used the last of the three guest passes Teresa left me.

My workout was pretty good, and later at home, I did my waist exercises. I’ll never be Mr. Universe or even have a normal Manhattan drop-dead body, but it’s important that I exercise and avoid getting any plumper.

Judy from next door came by to ask if I wanted to go with her to the Lincoln Center crafts show – that was thoughtful – but I hadn’t showered yet.

Finally, at about 1:30 PM, I took the IRT down to Sheridan Square and went to The Bagel for one of their great hamburgers.

That place is still a favorite hangout, and I was glad to see that the Cuban waiter with the high-pitched voice is still there.

I thought I’d avoid the Washington Square art show crowds and take a bus up to the Donnell Library, which is open on Sunday.

But Sixth Avenue was closed to traffic on account of the Puerto Rican Day parade, so the bus plodded on across seedy 42nd Street. I had a good seat to watch the drug money changing hands, the three-card monte operators, the Asian men coming out of porn theaters, the boy prostitutes looking sullen and hungry by the Port Authority.

It took us twenty minutes just to get to Eighth Avenue, the substitute route through midtown. By the time the bus stopped at Columbus Circle, I was a bit carsick from the stop-and-go traffic, so I just walked home and watched Diner again. I called Alice and Gary, leaving messages on their machines.

Lori said Ronna was spending the day with Cara and Sid. (I remember Ronna once crying because all her friends from college would never be close again, and she said cynically, “Do you think me and my husband are going to spend time with Sid and his wife?” Ha.)

Grandma Ethel said she enjoyed yesterday’s bar mitzvah at the posh Swan Club; she said it had been one of the most luxurious affairs she had been to. I’m glad she’s going to all these family events now.

Tomorrow Amira arrives, so this is my last night alone in the apartment for a while.

I’ve got a sore throat and may be catching cold. I’m planning to watch the videotape of Women in Love and finish reading Paul Hawken’s The Next Economy.

Wednesday, May 30, 1984

Midnight. To use a favorite word of Amira’s, the last few days have been intense. Life seems to be urgent and filled with activity.

Today was the third straight day of nonstop rain, and so we missed the solar eclipse at noon; it just got a little darker, that’s all.

Last night I slept okay in the living room, and I was up at about 8:30 AM today. When Amira came out of the bedroom, she said she had gotten up at 4 AM again, obviously because her body is still on European time.

She got ready to go into work at the Y, but she had no energy at all, and finally she called them and said she’d be in tomorrow.

We hung out in bed together most of the morning; when I got a little too friendly, she pushed my hands away. I did like talking to Amira about men and what we find attractive in them, but she felt less comfortable that I was attracted to her as well.

I’d like to believe it’s not just that I’m so horny that I’d be attracted to anyone (it obviously didn’t hold true for Justin the other night), but I’ve been feeling incredibly sexually frustrated since Amira’s been here.

I guess it’s nice to know, as with Ronna, that I still feel something for women – but that’s only if I get to know them. With men, my attraction is visceral, and it’s always been, even fifteen years ago, when I barely allowed myself to look at guys.

My sexuality is no big deal anymore; I’m sure, biologically, I’ve always been gay, and it doesn’t make me different from anyone else, at least in terms of my humanity. As long as I’m accepted by other people, there’s really no problem.

Amira and I hung out all morning and most of the afternoon, finally venturing out to a greasy spoon for lunch.

We lay in bed, watching soaps and looking at my clips, which surprised and impressed her; she said I should write a book about all these articles and how I got them in the paper.

A reporter from the Morristown Daily Record called, the first bite from all those press releases about the New Jersey primary that I sent out two weeks ago, and he interviewed me for 45 minutes.

I’m pleased that another story will be coming out; I’ve missed not being in the papers lately.

At about 5 PM, I felt I really needed to be alone, and I figured Amira was about to conk out, so I took the 86th Street bus to the Madison Deli and had a turkey sandwich for dinner while I read the new issue of the Voice I picked up at the newsstand.

In the paper, I noticed there was a 7 PM lecture at Hunter College by Gerard Piel, the publisher of Scientific American, on “Computers and the Return to Paradise.”

Hanging out for a while around Hunter, I walked around in the rain until the lecture, which was part of a series that also featured Seymour Papert, the inventor of the LOGO language that I plan to learn.

The talk was in the Hunter West building which opened last year, and the guy was pretty interesting although he didn’t provide me with any startling insights.

Still, Piel reinforced the idea that we’re in a “revolution” in the world economy while most of us are still attuned to the obsolete image of our industrial past.

Back home at 9 PM, I met Amira’s buddy Alex, who she invited over for coffee; she seemed nice even if I didn’t get to talk to her much.

Amira told me she’d be spending tonight at this guy Eddie’s house. He’s a 21-year-old ex-Marine who called her earlier.

But as the evening progressed, she began feeling sicker and sicker. She said it was the same way she felt after being in Europe a couple of days, so it’s probably jet lag rather than a virus.

Eddie called to say he lost his wallet – or it was stolen – and Amira’s still waiting for him, but they’re going to stay in the living room, and Amira will sleep here tonight, and I bet Eddie will, too.

I feel a little weird, but what can I do?

Amira’s pretty flaky, and although I know Teresa would not be thrilled about them spending the night on the couch, neither of us will say anything.

At least I’ve learned to be flexible. In life, one does not seem to have a choice.

Thursday, May 31, 1984

6 PM. Today was our fourth dark and chilly day in a row, although it hasn’t yet rained.

Last night Amira’s friend Eddie arrived close to 1 AM, but I was in the bedroom and they were whispering so I couldn’t hear them. In addition, I put the radio on so that they wouldn’t feel someone was listening in.

Amira said later they were worried they made too much noise, but once I got to sleep, I didn’t hear a thing. Eddie had to be out of here at 6 AM, and by the time I got up, Amira was ready to go out to work.

She called later from the Y and said she’d be out until about 8 PM or 9 PM, as she planned to put things away in her apartment; tomorrow night she’s going over to Fire Island.

Gary called and said he’d gotten my message from the weekend, which he had spent relaxing at the beach on Fire Island.

He’s been promoted to assistant vice president at Citicorp, but with that comes the stress that has led him to have a spastic colon over the past four months. He suffers from chronic diarrhea, saying, “It’s a real pain in the butt.”

Alice also phoned after she and Peter got back from an eight-day business trip to London. Peter said it was the best trip he’d taken, because London was so much like New York, and Alice had a terrific time, too.

The reporter for the Morristown Daily Record, David Salowitz, phoned again to ask me more questions; evidently this story is definitely going to run.

As I told Amira, I have good allies in reporters because we have a lot in common: like me, they are usually bright, good writers, well-informed and cynical, low-paid and highly verbal.

I picked up Sunday’s Fort Lauderdale paper at the out-of-town newspaper store in Times Square and read it at the Mid-Manhattan Library, then grabbed lunch a few blocks uptown at Rockefeller Center.

Back on the West Side, I bought Bacitracin for the knee infection I got from that cut on the Y’s leg machine, and I did other errands at the grocers, cleaners, and video store.

At home, I lifted weights while watching Bertrand Blier’s film Going Places, which I saw about ten years ago in the movies.

Mom sent me the usual mail: a Visa bill, a job opening notice (Maricopa Community Colleges in Phoenix), and an envelope with funny cartoons by Jonathan.

I’ll probably go out in a little while, but there are plenty of cold cuts in the refrigerator, as Eddie worked security at some function at B’nai B’rith and brought over all the leftover food.

May has been a chilly, rainy month, but I’ve enjoyed my freedom in New York immensely.

Never have I felt so relaxed and stimulated at the same time. Being here has really been a great way to forget the petty tension of everyday life at Broward Community College.

I again feel very much the New Yorker, and I again feel I can cope with anything, from subways at rush hour to dark and dangerous streets.

Probably I could even live here again, but I don’t think I could have as good a life as I do in Florida. I realize there are a lot of tradeoffs people have to make for their big salaries.

Last night I asked Amira to come up with five adjectives to describe me, and she said cute, sweet, sensitive, caring and funny, in that order.

I had just wanted to see how a relative stranger who’d lived with me for two straight days perceived me.

At least she didn’t say fat, boring, ugly, dumb and mean, though I might feel more comfortable if she had.