SPEND THE MORNING checking out the office I'll use during the two-month Virginia General Assembly session. It's spacious and elegant -- except for the thick telephone cord which climbs down my desk and snakes across the middle of the room. Sure beats the hotel rooms delegates used to use. Tuesday
My aides, recent college graduates Jim Wilson and Woody Holton, are as new to lawmaking as I am. They're like bear cubs -- into everything and full of life. My secretary, Barbara Price, is a 13-year veteran; her experience will help us freshmen.
Hearing that legislators do most of their work at parties, I will accept as many invitations as my schedule and stomach can bear. Tonight, I make it to two out of three parties lobbyists are throwing. Learn more about the delegate guests than the associations' programs.
The House Republican caucus, now 33 strong, is meeting to elect leaders. For the first time in 12 years, a Democrat sits in the governor's mansion. So the Republicans need a spokesman. Our group wants to elect one person to represent Republicans in both the House and Senate. We'll see what our Senate colleagues think of the idea. Wednesday
Amid much tradition-steeped pomp -- and confusion -- my fellow delegates and I take office. We were supposed to take the oath at noon. But the 1981 session doesn't take its last vote on redistricting till after 1.
So we stand in the wings, waiting to take over our desks in the House chamber. I tell one of my fellow freshman I feel like a vulture. "Not me," he says, "I've worked hard for this."
Del. Clint Miller of Woodstock arrives late, and the speaker has to swear him in individually -- amid much joshing from other delegates. My fairfax County colleague, Gwendalyn Cody, jokes that she would have come late if she'd known that she would have received individual attention.
While the veteran legislators lean back in their chairs, I find myself sitting on the edge of the seat straining to hear the streams of announcements.
After ajournment, we freshman take over the chamber to practice the gentlemanly virtue of calling a fierce rival "the distinguished gentleman from..." Thursday
The National Association of Social Workers feeds us breakfast. Their promise of no speech is shortly followed by a fine 5-minute address.
Governor-elect Robb sent all us legislaors a letter asking us to propose people for appointments to boards and commissions. Some hjRepublicans don't take the offer seriously. After checking with Fairfax political figures, I decide that most of the nominees should be Democrats. The first person I call immediately accepts. He's able and qualified -- and he can promote Northern Virginia's interests. I'm much encouraged, and place more calls. Friday
The House adjourns 15 minutes after it convenes. We are still waiting for the speaker to announce our committee assignments. Legislators here view the speaker with the same awe they might accord a prophet. I wonder if the speaker will bring down my assignments on stone tablets.
After two days of freshman orientation, I know how to flick the electronic voting button, find my way from the cloakroom to the House chamber and detect the subtle witticisms that are standard fare in this gentlemanly assembly. Saturday
At Gov. Robb's inauguration, past governors and would-be past governors greet each other as old friends. Reviews of the governor's inaugural address are mixed. I feel he ducked some important issues -- presumably he'll address them in his speech to the joint assembly on Monday.
Before the Inaugural Ball, which is as grand as it can be in the Richmond colliseum, I entertain some campaign workers and friends in my barren Richmond bachelor apartment. Then my wife, who's visiting for the weekend, and I take them to dinner. One of the guests gives me a birthday gift; she announces to me that the gift will work magic.
"This will not only insure that all your bills pass," she says, "it will also make every delegate your friend. All you have to do is set it on your desk when you're speaking."
It is a 3-minute egg timer. Sunday
Having retired at 3 a.m., I wake to a breakfast my wife prepares. It's the first time I've eaten in the apartment in a week of living here.
After meeting briefly with my aides in the afternoon, I drive home to McLean for a few hours of relative quiet. Scads of mail await me. Monday
As I await my committee assignments, I remember my military service assignment experience. I asked for a North Atlantic destroyer and got a carrier in the South Pacific.
My luck seems to have kept an even keel. The speaker assigns me to Roads and Internal Navigation, Mining and Mineral Resources, and Claims committees.
We freshman immediately compare notes, like excited schoolboys. My aides immediately turn to the more controversial issues that will be addressed by these committees. In turn, I make courtesy calls on each of the committee chairman. It is indeed a special way of life.