Justin's Life...

~ April 2001 ~
~ April 1st - 25th ~

April 1, 2001 - Sunday

I knew the last entry would ruffle some feathers. My personal ad contained the "normal guy who happens to be gay" phrase which had previously gotten me flak, and the subject of cute people wanting to hang with cute people seemed taboo. As always, before uploading what I'd written, I read it over to make sure I said what I meant and meant what I said, and re-reading it now, I still believe what I wrote is true.

Yet, like I said, I knew the entry would ruffle some feathers. The recurring word in most of the e-mails has been "shallow," but a near equal amount of respondents have written to say that they understand, and some even to say that they commend me for having the guts to say it. A few have stupefied me completely with comments such as, "if you think you are 'cute' and deserve only 'cute' friends, then seek them out, but don't announce that 'fact' to the world. It's really really really unbecoming." I thought the whole point of this journal was to read my honest, candid thoughts. And while I do understand people having differing viewpoints, I don't quite grasp someone telling me to keep mine to myself if he finds them unbecoming.

For the past few days, I've been trying to think of a response to the responses or if I was even going to respond at all. It's not a perfect match, but for those who would call me shallow, I ask, "Do you buy the generic box of food, the store brand, or the national brand?" Most of the time, I buy the national brand, but sometimes I buy the store's private label instead. I never buy the generic. Life, meeting people, is like that, too. Sure, a few people buy the generic food, but most of us prefer the national brand. Sometimes, we find that the substance of the store's private label is as good as the national brand, but most of us never venture into the generic territory.

Now, the pundits will be quick to counter that the generic is the same as the national brand once you get inside, but I beg to differ. And if the generic is the same, why does no one buy it? I never said wanting to hang out with cute people was virtuous or fair: I only said that was how it works.


April 2, 2001 - Monday

Lawyers get all the bad press about taking people for their money, but it seems to me that doctors are the ones most scamming.

This morning, I went to have a routine contact lens eye exam. Total cost $125.00. Fair enough, I say, for an eye exam and prescription... but I didn't get a prescription. I got a trial pair of contacts and a "care kit." In one week, I'm supposed to return for a "follow up" exam, which per my inquiry, will cost $100.00 more. At that time, after I tell them, "yeah, they work," I can purchase a 3 to 6 month supply from their in house optical department. Should I want to purchase the contacts from somewhere else cheaper... well, "we need to order them here so we can make sure they fit correctly." What? And it wasn't even I who asked that question. The lady who'd gotten her exam before me did, and that was the answer. She, too, couldn't see the purpose of holding her prescription hostage, and keeping my aggravation to myself about how the costs kept mounting, I cooperatively made an appointment to return in two weeks only to cancel it sometime in the next few days.

When I got back home, I quickly wrote a letter to Dan to inform him that his cousin, to whom he had referred me, didn't even do contact lens exams, and instead, I had found that my appointment with his cousin for a contact lens exam was switched to another doctor only after being introduced to that other doctor. I told him the particulars of the visit, too, but I finished by saying that I wasn't blaming him, only telling him so that he didn't recommend his friends going there in the future.

And then, pupils still dilated, I made an appointment with the doctor at Costco. Total cost $69 or $79 with a FREE optional follow-up exam.


April 6, 2001 - Friday

Last night I was sitting in the airport with Steve and Bryce when I commented on just how much my life had changed in the past year. In many ways, I'm a new person; new city, new apartment, new friends, new outlook. And while the path that lead me here no doubt determined who I am today, the surroundings are such that I sometimes startle myself at how different life is now.

Moreover, as of late, I've been re-reading the earlier journal entries, and although I'm proud of how my writing style has improved, I'm disappointed in myself for a multitude of reasons. For one, I've lost the vigor that required I write entries at 2AM. The extreme freshness of raw events has been replaced with the depth of reflection. Writing about things that have substance has caused me to leave things out when their substance wasn't readily visible. Take for example, Scott, this guy I met a few weeks ago and to whom I earlier referred as the one of nine new people I'd likely see again. We met for dinner that initial night, had lunch the next week, and then met twice more.

During that third meeting, we ended up drinking and laying in the floor. I rubbed his chest for a while then he asked, "do you wanna kiss?" to which I leaned over and pressed my lips on his. The night continued, things got a little more intense, and then I said, "but you have a boyfriend." He said he knew, and once again before the night was through I remarked that he had a boyfriend, but I didn't write about it because there was no larger "moral" to the story.

Whereas before, simply writing about the night would have revealed myself, lately, I've been thinking that the revelation must come with a definitive revelation. Couldn't some insight have been garnered by my writing about kissing, grabbing, and hugging a guy with a boyfriend? Wouldn't explaining how part of me felt dirty yet another part liked it have been its own revelation? Wouldn't my writing about seeing what was behind door number three yet not trying to make the other have an orgasm, not going down on the other, or not getting too intense been it's own "point"? Couldn't I have articulated how I'd been torn yet still stayed within my boundaries? Why have I lately decided that everything I write about must have a global point?

Also, reading over the journal entries from the beginning of 1995, I find myself down a bit now, like the kid who no longer believes in Santa. In the beginning of 1995, I was experiencing a lot of firsts and things were so intense. Dating was so intoxicating. Things were so special. Is it ridiculous to think that that intoxication can return? I wonder, but I think I can experience that true intoxication again. Remembering now, I know I was that intoxicated with Jeremy less than a year ago, so perhaps it's just a matter of knowing what I want which makes getting to that intoxication point all the harder. Perhaps, like alcohol, after one becomes accustomed, something different is needed to create that buzz. When I began dating, any guy was new and remarkable. Now, the additional requirement of being whom I find attractive is there.

So, who knows... I'm going to try to write more often, even if the point isn't readily visible. And perhaps, like today with the Jeremy/intoxication thing, the writing itself will reveal something I hadn't yet realized.

Like I said, I'm a new person... I need a bit to figure out just who this new guy is.


April 8, 2001 - Sunday

Tonight, I'm angry, confused, and anxious... and I haven't a clue why. If someone asked me what I would change, I would have no answer, yet I sit here with a strong sense of needing to do something. But it's not cabin fever; I spent the afternoon in the park with Dan and his friends. It's more like an overwhelming sense that something needs to change. Something needs fixing, but I have no idea what.


April 9, 2001 - Monday

Often, I'm made aware that what I write here has an effect on the people reading it, but this past week, I became further aware that what I write for the world to see has quite a visible effect on those whose names appear as well.

On Wednesday night, Steve, Bryce and I hung out with a new guy, who I'd met once before. During a conversation he and I were having as we walked to his car, he threatened to sue me if I wrote about a particular facet of his which I didn't particularly care for. He was a law school student, and the tenor of his voice evinced it wasn't a hollow threat... Trying to recover from that threat has proved unsuccessful. We will not be seeing each other again.

On Friday, I received confirmation of my French class being accepted for transfer credit at USC. I, in turn, called my department to make sure everything was in place for me to receive my diploma, and after I'd been told that my graduation had been cleared by Degree Progress and that I'd get my diploma with the May graduates, the voice on the other end of the phone said, "I found your website."

"Oh," I think was my response back. I knew the name of the person to whom I was speaking sounded familiar, but I hadn't placed two and two together. He said that he'd been searching for his name online when he'd found my site. I explained my feelings around the circumstances on which I wrote, and a few minutes later, we hung up the phone.

Looking back, I found where I'd put his first and last name into the site, quoted from an e-mail I'd received. I can only assume that at that time I was so upset at how the department had treated the students that I didn't pay any attention to his full name being within the e-mail I'd received. Either that, or I was thinking that because he existed within the realm of school, there was no need to hide his name. I can't suppose what I was thinking on such a small point 19 months ago. But he'd found it and remembered it, so much so that when I called him who knows how many months later, it was something he thought about.

Then on Saturday, I met this guy for dinner, and the resounding thought going through my head was that reality is created by the perceiver. He was so nervous, he'd had his mom iron his shirt for our date. I'd thrown some pants on for our meeting for dinner. He was smitten with me. I was less than smitten with him. And I know, without a doubt, that had I come back here and written how I perceived the night to be, it would have drastically affected him. He wasn't a bad guy, for sure, but had I written exactly what had happened, how I was feeling at each moment, it would have crushed him. Indeed, he was at a more fragile point than most as it was, I think, his first "date" ever, but my words here would have had such an effect on him.

So, it's all just sorta mystifying. Mystifying in that I'd almost forgotten this aspect of an online journal. Mystifying that my words carry so much weight. Just mystifying. I know I don't let the journal affect me, and I think my friends are fairly unconscious of it once they become my friends, but it is interesting to see how it affects those who don't yet know me.


April 12, 2001 - Thursday

I'm a big fan of HBO's documentary series America Undercover. Watching it, I've learned about the lives of crack whores, drug addicts, pimps, coroners, teen killers, strippers, a rural Appalachian family, suicide counselors/family members and right wing anti-abortion protesters. None of those made me think as much as the latter, which I watched last night.

As I was sitting on the couch, the thought "They're crazy." was so going through my mind that I found myself saying it out loud to the empty room. True, almost anytime someone says, "the Lord wanted me..." in explaining their actions, I wonder about their total sanity, but there's a big difference in wondering if someone is misguided in committing two years of his or her life to mission work and hearing, "the Lord wanted me to shoot the abortionist." "Kill one: Scare a thousand," was another line that stuck out in my head.

These people weren't whores selling their own bodies, they weren't drug addicts destroying themselves, and they weren't even murderers who'd gotten entangled in a situation which they'd handled terribly. They were people with a mission; a mission to stop abortion doctors via whatever means necessary. "If God told me to kill, I would kill." Again, I can appreciate people and their religions while still not agreeing, but I have to question how God tells anyone anything. I know how badly cell phone conversations can get messed up, and unless I've missed something, God is not using FAXes to communicate his will. How could that guy know, with certainty, that God was telling him to kill and that it wasn't just his own idea? I sometimes get scared of flying on a plane, so much so that one time I even went to the airport to fly home to Kentucky but left when there was a delay, taking it as a "sign." But, ultimately, I knew it was my own paranoia. I didn't attribute it to a sign from God. With God as an excuse, people can do almost anything, and simply write it off to "God's will." That's what's scary.

Also, during the program, the filmmakers showed how these people used the Internet to organize and communicate with one another. I thought about that for a bit, and realized that while I genuinely believe these people are crazy, I do support the First Amendment and their right to share their thoughts. That's hard to say when their activities disgust me, but I know the whole point of the First Amendment is allowing people with differing opinions to speak. I wouldn't want to not have this website because my activities and writings disgust someone, and so, as much as I wish their site wasn't there, I would not try to remove it, nor would I wish the Internet out of existence. It's an unbelievable shame that these people kill doctors and abortion clinic workers, but I know lives has been saved, quite literally at times, by this site being here. Their site changes lives but so does this one and countless others, and with the good, so must come the bad.

Of course, my thoughts also touched upon the idea of abortion, something I hadn't really thought about a lot as a gay man, and I have to say that while I would rather see the woman have the baby, I'm not quite sure that I believe the doctors are "babykillers." Of course, the closer the fetus is to being born, the worse I view the abortion, but if one wanted, he could feel guilty about masturbating. All those sperm had a potential for life, as did that fetus.

I do remember how my brother and I as kids once found a nest which had been abandoned by the mother duck. We broke open some of the eggs and the half developed ducklings were nauseating. I would imagine an aborted human fetus would be all that and quite more. Where does the line of life begin? I don't know enough about fetus development to know.

All I do know is that the program left me quite jarred afterwards. Strangely enough, hearing, "When I was in prison for a first degree murder (of a man who was killed during a robbery), the Lord called upon me. He moved me, actually, to, uh, circumcise myself." does that to a guy, but as always, I was glad I watched.


April 15, 2001 - Sunday

There's that saying about feeling the most lonely in a crowd of people, but I think I feel the most lonely when I'm with the people I know the best who seemingly are the most different from me at the moment. Take for example right now, this very second.

I was playing the above mentioned anti-abortion documentary for Steve and Carlos, and I, of course, had been dumbstruck at the contents, but, "he's hard," was the comment coming from Steve, meaning that Carlos had an erection. The two of them had been laying on the couch, fully clothed, with the video playing... and he got an erection because Steve had been rubbing his crotch.

Am I the only guy in the world who doesn't think about sex non-stop? I mean, literally, as I write this, they're on the couch, dicks out now, jerking, kissing, moaning etc. and I'm on the other side of the room "working." It's just like damn; am I really that alone in my thoughts?

They're done. Gotta go.


April 17, 2001 - Tuesday

Things were awkward after that. I was visibly disconcerted at what had happened, and Steve and Carlos were saying that I had said I didn't mind whenever they asked if their jerking off bothered me. And I had answered, "No" whenever they'd asked. It wasn't the jerking off that bothered me in and of itself; it was the timing.

I'd wanted Steve, who'd read the journal entry and commented about it, to see the video first hand and for it to have a similar impact on him. Whenever they started messing around while it was playing, it was obvious that it wasn't having any impact on him whatsoever. The idea of sex was so pervasive for Steve and Carlos that even pictures of aborted babies and people getting shot couldn't stop it. I felt utterly alone.

Sure, Carlos had broken up with Bryce on Thursday night, and Steve and I had decided we weren't dating again, but damn, am I that singular in my thoughts about sex? I wouldn't just whip it out at someone's house where I was staying for the weekend unless I was whipping it out FOR that someone whose house I was in. If I really felt the need to "release my tension," I would do it during my regular morning shower.

So, anyway, I felt alone, they read it as me being upset with them, and the awkwardness continued until they left a few hours later. Otherwise, it was a nice weekend... but it's amazing how the nice parts are so much harder to remember.


April 19, 2001 - Thursday

Last night, I had a date. It wasn't a date when it started, it was only meeting a guy for dinner, but when we we parted ways in the restaurant's parking lot an hour and a half after we met, I had undeniably been on a date. Standing next to my car, exchanging cell phone numbers, bashfully inquiring about the next time the other was available, it had that indescribable wholesome date quality which I haven't experienced in years. Meeting for dinner then parting afterwards, it was just enough but not too much. It was so... just incredibly wholesome.

The dinner conversation was nice, too. Jered's being a writer and school teacher sort of gave us a connecting point. And we both laughed so hard we turned red at the irony of him making fun of his father's accent when I told him he had spinach stuck in his teeth. (Actually, he might have turned red from embarrassment, but I turned red because of the humor.) And today, I've been thinking about him in little random ways, like when I walked behind a huge pickup truck like he said his father drives.

Of course, I sent him e-mail this morning to say that I had a nice time last night, and the subject line of his response was "ditto."

It just feels... nice.


April 21, 2001 - Saturday

Tonight I was supposed to have a date with Jered, but he called about an hour ago to tell me that he was in Arizona; a friend he hadn't seen in a year had flown him there for the pride festival.

Needless to say, I was/am a bit disappointed. I'd actually been thinking about what I was going to wear, about possibly buying a new shirt; just high school dating type of stuff, and I'd driven back from Bryce's dad's house earlier than I would have so that I could "get ready."

But I'm not a high school kid, so instead of being upset that he cancelled, I'm just gonna go about my day as though I hadn't had a date tonight. Maybe, as he suggested, we'll go out tomorrow night: maybe not.

I mean, the high school kid would definitely want to "get him back" by not going out tomorrow night, but as I said, I'm not a high school kid. I should try to combine the best of maturity with the best of those high school dating innocences. Of course, a high school kid probably wouldn't have his date cancelled because the other guy was going to a pride event and doing who knows what, but I digress.

I did finally get to spend the night at Bryce's dad's house last night, and like I'd hoped, I gained a little further insight into who Bryce is. Actually, we met up with Noam and Alex for dinner, too, so it was a nice catching up with one another night as well.

And tonight, as was planned, I'm going by myself to a gay dance at UCSD.

Life is good...


April 22, 2001 - Sunday

When I talked to Jered about two hours ago, he asked me how last night went at the dance then I asked him about his night as well. He responded that he'd tell me all about it in person, but when I asked what time he got in, he said "ten this morning"... Nothing good can come from someone staying out all night.

Drugs, sex, more drugs, more sex, drunken sex, group sex, couple sex, anal sex, drugs and sex: you name it, it's been going through my head. And I don't know why I'm so worried about it; if he spent the weekend doing all those things, he obviously wasn't the guy for me... but I'd at least like to see for myself instead of finding out so soon. I even noticed that my heart beat quicker when I called him earlier today; there's an attraction there, a nervousness about saying the wrong thing, a thought that there's some potential.

So, tonight, after he gets back to San Diego, we're meeting for dinner. I'd, of course, like to hear that he was just hanging with his friends, but I have doubts as to that being what he'll say.

As for my night last night, I could find no replacement for dinner: all my friends are out of town. As for the dance at UCSD, I felt like the odd one out as the guy who'd invited me and told me that he would introduce me to "all his friends" introduced me to only one person. I did find another guy, Dave, whom I'd met from my personal ad a few weeks ago, and I hung with him and his friends for a bit, but without a partner in crime, I was inept at asking anyone to dance.

In hindsight, my outfit of a football jersey and baseball cap probably didn't help. Actually, had I seen someone wearing the same, I would have found him intimidating and when I was talking about it to Steve this morning, he said he was just about to say the same thing.

I did at least start a conversation with one guy, so the night didn't feel like a complete failure, but it was nothing like my first gay dance at MIT.

On the positive side, when I first found Dave, he said something about me wearing my football jersey again. I asked him what he meant as I'd only worn it the weekend before when Steve, Carlos, and I were bored and went to a club, and he countered that my picture was in The Gay And Lesbian Times. I said something about seeing the photographer at Rich's, but that I thought he was taking a photo of the go-go boy behind me.

This morning, I found the photo, and while not quite a picture of just me, it was decidedly one with me in the foreground, especially considering that he'd taken several where I was looking away from the camera.


April 23, 2001 - Monday

Last night I met Jered for dinner and to my relief, he told me that he'd hung out with a band member friend doing band stuff all night. No sex. No drugs. At least not for him.

After dinner was over, we headed back to the parking garage and he gave me a hug goodnight. It was a sweet sincere hug, with his cheek touching mine, and while the circumstances of the night didn't lend to a feeling of bedevilment, I left looking forward to hearing the phone ring when he said, "I'll call you tomorrow," as he walked towards his car.


April 25, 2001 - Wednesday

A few weeks ago, with a cocksure attitude, I signed up for a class to learn how to swim at the local YMCA, but when it came time to actually go to the class on Monday, I had to force myself to not turn back as I walked down the sidewalk towards the building's entrance.

Not only was I putting myself into an entirely new environment, I was admitting to strangers that I didn't know how to swim. What if I was the worst person in the class? What if the rest of the people had great bodies? What if my hair was too long and the instructor blamed that for me not learning quickly enough? "What if..." renunciations were going through my mind interminably... but I made it inside and told the lady at the desk why I was there.

She, in turn, told me to go through the gate, through some doors, then through the men's lockerroom to the pool. I followed her instructions, realizing somewhere along the way that I hadn't a locker to put my shirt and shoes and that I'd forgotten to bring a towel. Walking towards the door to the pool in shoes, shirt, and swimming trunks, I passed a nude older man then saw a sign indicating that everyone was required to take a shower before entering the pool.

Did I really need to take a shower before entering the pool? What should I do with my stuff while I was taking it? Would the instructor tell me to take a shower before I got in the pool if I did not?

Finally, after walking into the pool area and back out to the main lobby twice, I said something to the lady sitting in the lifeguard chair about how I was there for the swim class. She told me that it would start shortly and when I asked her about a locker, she told me that I could just put my stuff along the wall. She didn't say anything about a shower, so I kept wondering in the back of my mind, but ultimately decided to wait and see.

A few minutes later, a chunky Pacific Islander guy around my age began the class with a forty-something white women, a thirty-something black lady, a twenty-something Asian girl, and me. We soon got into the pool and started doing various exercises. I felt slightly embarrassed that I couldn't even stay afloat while kicking my legs and holding onto the wall, but I took comfort in knowing that the black lady needed a floatie thing around her waist to stay up all the time.

By the class's end, I don't think any of us had learned anything and the instructor had apologized, saying that he was used to teaching the advanced level and that the lady who regularly taught our class would be back next week.

So, with one class out of eight down, I'm still no closer in knowing how to swim, but I did remind myself that anticipation is often worse than the actual deed.

Click here for the next set of entries.

© 2001 Justin Clouse
Justin's Life...Justin's