WHILE passing through that immeasurable morning period between sleep and awareness, my mind is full of that dark, heavy feeling I suspect we all have when confronted with the fact that a great deal of work -- not leisure -- awaits us. Sunday editions of The Post, Times and Star as well as one legal brief and an unpublished confidential government report await my attention. Reading used to be fun, but in Washington the pleasure vanishes. Even the papers must be read defensively lest something slip by.
In this town, one must remember that facts are often irrelevant. What is relevant is the perception of facts. The Post et al. create such perceptions every time a bundle of papers is thrown off a slowed delivery truck. All of us -- lawyers, lobbyists, bureaucrats, Hill people -- all of us must deal with the perceptions created by the media, whether they are factual or not.
Interrupting my day-long labors are three substantial contacts with the world at large. Another bout of that dread disease, alcoholism, has struck a loved one. Two, my father is again in an intensive care unit, having had his 11th scheduled heart attack. I wish that he could have lived as dramatically as he is dying. And three children's school problems. After all, this is Washington. Everyone deals with school problems. MONDAY
The blur of the week begins. Client problems require that I secure a bootlegged copy of an as yet unreleased report. Another chore: Find out if a Blumenthal recommendation to take a problem to Rafshoon is an innocent mistake or an ambush. Looking forward to lunch with two friends and a round of receptions. Oh, Washington, to see and be seen. As so often happens, my schedule is busted by intervening events.
One luncheon partner has to cancel because the pack of Huskies and Dingos he keeps on his 9 acres of Great Falls escaped into the Virginia wilderness where, unless promptly recaptured, they would surely wreak havoc. My other luncheon partner received a better offer -- a senatorial luncheon invitation. But the day is not lost. I found a good book, actually two of them: George Will's collection of essays and Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon." TUESDAY
Nine hours of memo writing. I am analyzing political and financial problems facing an incumbent senator about to seek reelection. It makes me realize how much Washington has converted me from a writer to an expensive imitation of a perpetual motion machine with an automatic phone. So much is spoken and so little is written in this Washington world. The telephone is my office. And for good reason -- the spoken is transitory but paper takes on a life of its own. Paper can come back to haunt you.
Got to do a mitzva for a friend who is experiencing a mild depression. We slip off for a Chinese pastry luncheon at the Golden Palace, where her day is brightened. WEDNESDAY
The day is a mirror reflection of the grabbag, overscheduled existence I call a practice. Six meetings -- each requiring more time than I can spare -- take up the day in quick succession. Reviewing each meeting in my mind that evening reminds me of how little some of us do that actually produces immediate income. Much that we do may generate a fee sometime in the future if numerous variables all fall into place. For example, a meeting today to discuss public perceptions of economic, social and political issues that will be resolved by some future Congress or administration may produce research contracts for a client that will require my involvement. Another meeting is to touch base with one who is well plugged into the informational network of this town. Where else but Washington is it necessary and accepted for people to know so much about the personal and professional lives of others?
Only two of today's six meetings were for clients. One was with a group of PR types and engineers to review the draft of a "talking piece" being prepared for a series of Hill briefings on a highly technical and controversial project. Before long it is clear that engineers do not know how to communicate with Hill types. Most think in such limited terms about isolated pieces of specific information, without any sensitivity to the use of words, the importance of timing and mood or the interrelationship of external events. Finally, you realize that they have a divine belief in facts as a basis for public policy. No wonder Washington has so many lawyers! Perhaps Plato was right, but in our imperfect system you need more than facts and logic to prevail -- you need the votes.
At day's end I remove a piece of paper from inside my coat pocket. On it is a list of calls I should have returned today.They'll have to wait until tomorrow. New calls received during the day on my Doro 320 are faithfully added to the list. Arriving late for meetings or failing to return phone calls makes me uncomfortable, like a weakness of the flesh fit for the confessional. Somewhere in life I developed the notion that being prompt and working hard would compensate for some of my limitations. After all, this life is a bit much for a kid from the Dogtown section of Providence who still remembers an empty refrigerator and his father's yearly periods of unemployment. New England winters are not particularly kind to house painters or their families. All things considered, I'd rather be in Washington. THURSDAY
A reflection of a commitment to family over career. From 9 to 12 is consumed with reading comic books to 5-years-olds in a corner of the kindergarten class at Capitol Hill Day School. Next we take the Metroliner north to Baltimore and back on the Colonial with all 16 children and six adults. My son warned my wife that if I was a no-show I would forfeit my right to attend his gala 6th birthday party.
Since last September, late Thursday afternoons are reserved for an affair with my wife. We play racquetball, take a steambath and massage, then head for wherever. Not a bad day. FRIDAY
First day of travel with a new client -- a young company seeking to represent others who wish to sell their products through the military PX or commissary systems. Got hopelessly lost and ran a $40 cab bill trying to find 1 South St. in Garden City, Long Island. But there were fewer problems than I expected. The parties came to a meeting of the minds and everyone left pleased. Before leaving Washington, two meetings were squeezed in.
The first was with a small group of savvy lawyers and lobbyists who are counseling a senator on the verge of real power. He's looking for advice and assistance on how to position himself on a number of substantive and political issues. He's pleased with the meeting and enthusiastic about several ideas that were developed.
At the second meeting, alliances were being formed that months from now will make a major issue out of a $15 billion inflationary mistake Carter's overenthusiastic regulators at DOT are pushing. I doubt that the public will clamor for higher auto prices as the answer to our energy crisis. You almost begin to believe that sheer punishment of certain industries is the goal for some policy officials. Poor Carter, he's surrounded himself with people who have the power to pursue their own agendas even when they conflict with his.
Saturday was rained out .