Justin's Life...

~ August 2001 ~
~ August 1st - 22nd ~

August 1, 2001 - Wednesday

It's funny the things that amuse us sometimes.

Last night, having had plans for dinner but having been stood up, I decided I'd go for a drive and finish the audiobook to which I'd been listening. As I was driving around hearing Dolly Parton extol the virtues of just being happy, I was aggravated and stressed, not from being stood up so much but rather just from finances and life in general.

Anyway, driving along in my loaner car (as mine was in the shop getting new brakes), I noticed that the rear window was foggy. I looked for the defrost button but couldn't find it and soon pressed the button for the rear window wiper.

Well, the wiper worked, but when I pushed the button to dispense the cleaning fluid, the liquid shot straight out from the backside of the SUV: It didn't hit the window at all.

Now, not being in the best of moods, this was just the trick I needed to perk myself back up. I had what I surmised was the closest thing I'd ever have to a car that deployed oil slicks... like in video games and spy movies. I started hoping cars would cut me off so I could cut back around them and then spray them down with windshield wiper fluid.

Soon, though, I realized that the nighttime freeway wasn't good for getting cars on my bumper, so I decided to take surface streets. With each light, I hoped for a red signal, and each time I would make the wiper go a couple times like I didn't know what I was doing then I'd press the spray button and out shot fluid directly on the car behind me. I was laughing out loud and I couldn't stop smiling: I just knew someone was going to pull around to tell me that I'd sprayed them and I'd have the HUGEST grin on my face.

That never happened and I dropped off the loaner car this morning, so the coast is clear for San Diego drivers... but I had SUCH a fun time last night, just being a big kid with a water gun.


August 3, 2001 - Friday

Like most people, I tend to do the things which I do best and avoid those which I do not. The logical part of me knows that were I to do the things which I don't do well, I would eventually do them passably if not decently. Nonetheless, forcing myself to face those fears now for some future payoff is not something I do well either.

Yet, Wednesday, I was called upon to face up or puss out, and I chose the former.

In short, this past month, I'd gotten a letter from my apartment community stating that my lease would be up at the end of August. It further stated that if I wished to renew it, the monthly rent would increase by ten dollars, but if I preferred to stay on a month-to-month basis, there would be an additional charge of $415 per month. Obviously, a month-to-month penalty of $415 was unacceptable, but I also didn't want to sign another lease. Noisy neighbors have moved in and out since I've gotten here, and this past Saturday, I had to call the courtesy patrol about the apartment across the way as the bass from their stereo thumped through the alley and on through my walls.

So, anyway, on Monday, I had planned to go speak with someone in the leasing office about not renewing my lease but not paying the $415/month penalty, using the noisy neighbors as leverage. Yet I couldn't force myself to go. I rationalized internally that if I were to take the rent check, it wouldn't be so bad. I wouldn't be asking for something without seemingly giving them nothing in return. Forget the fact that lease or no lease, I was still paying them a big chunk of rent every month. I rationalized the physical handing of the check to them would somehow make my request more palatable... so I waited until Tuesday as I needed to move money from my business to my personal account to cover the expense.

Tuesday came and I again rationalized the delay away. Yes, I had gone to the bank and deposited funds from my business account into my personal one, but "what if they take the check to the bank today and they're with the same bank as I am and it goes in before my deposit is credited and the check is returned?" I thought to myself. "Tomorrow I'll go talk to someone, for sure," I told myself, knowing full well that the check bouncing thing was just another excuse.

And then Wednesday came. It was August 1st. I had to take the rent and were I to bluff that I'd move rather than sign a lease, I needed the thirty day period for written notification or my bluff had no potential bite. I had to do it, so I tried my best to psyche myself up and I drove over to the leasing office.

I went inside and with my voice quivering, I said that I'd gotten a notice about my lease needing to be renewed. The girl who looked at me when I walked in, in turn, walked over, saying that she could help me with that.

Voice quivering and hands shaking, I opened up the letter that I'd received. I was so embarrassed. There I was, doing what I knew was a stupid little task, yet my voice was noticeably quivering and my hands were shaking as I opened the letter. "What a freak?" I knew she must've been thinking. I so didn't want to be there... but I pushed forward and soon in actuality but long in perception, I regained my composure and continued talking.

One of her colleagues came up and hearing what I'd said, gave me a few options, all requiring that I still sign a lease of at least six months. Eventually, I gave in, with the worst case scenario being that I could transfer to a different apartment within the community if the neighbors here became too annoying.

So, I survived, and all before and all afterwards, I knew it wasn't a big deal to have that conversation. I still know it's not a big deal to have a conversation with someone in a business environment where you're not doing exactly what they want, but I can't tell you that I'm gonna be more assertive about having those conversations. With time, I may get better, but I do know and have no problems accepting that we've all got our Krypotonites.


August 7, 2001 - Tuesday

Many days over the last few months, I've walked around my apartment complex on the jogging trail, but today, I did something different: I did it shirtless.

Now, being an adult 6'0" male of 178 pounds living in southern Southern California, it would seem that walking around shirtless anywhere wouldn't be a big deal, but for a kid who grew up being fat, being shirtless even at the pool is something met with a bit of apprehension.

Yet I've come to realize that we all have our body hangups. We're too fat or too skinny, too scrawny or too stocky, not muscular at all or not muscular enough. The skinny people aren't happy with their bodies, nor are the fat people. The middle range guys somehow wish they were different, and even the muscle-bound guys who would seemingly have the "perfect" bodies aren't happy as they're not Herculean. It's all relative, but it's almost always there.

So, today, with the knowledge that I've yet to be permanently damaged from seeing anyone on the jogging trail or the beach who was shirtless, I decided it was time for me to get a little more of a tan and to start fighting these paranoias a bit more, too.


August 10, 2001 - Friday

Earlier today via instant messenger:

Justin: hey
Justin: I just found something
Justin: very creepy
Justin: Mike brought back the book and Dolly tape I'd loaned him
Jay: and?
Justin: I just noticed that the instruction manual for the pager (which I bought him when we met) was in inside the book
Justin: and he left the pager here (accidentally) the other day
Justin: he didn't take it with him when he left the last time either
Justin: why would he bring the pager manual back if not to give me back the pager?
Justin: like adios
Jay: he doesnt feel worthy....thats what that means dude
Justin: well, I think it's creepy
Justin: and it's wiggin me out
Justin: he promised he wouldn't hurt himself
Justin: but only after I pushed for that promise
Jay: email him.

A minute or so passed while I called Mike's work numbers.

Justin: the phone numbers for his work go no where
Justin: I got a voice mail
Justin: and then a girl that said that they changed his room
Justin: and he's in a different building
Justin: so she didn't know if he was at work today or not
Jay: email him.
Justin: I did earlier today
Justin: I got back this noonish yesterday:
Justin: Justin,

I'm sorry for being an ass last night. But it should be apparent now that I'm not equipped mentally or emotionally to be your friend. Your time is better spent elsewhere. So I hope you get through your busy day and have fun, too. Thanks for everything.


Jay: grrr.
Justin: :-(
Justin: I don't like this
Justin: at all
Jay: He's fine. I promise.
Justin: well, it's very poetic
Justin: like he's closing all the loose ends
Justin: even his answering machine has got the generic message on it now
Justin: the bigger than normal flowers (he brought me the night before last), bringing all the stuff back, etc.
Jay: dude....im sure that you're overanalyzing.
Justin: I know he wouldn't leave his dog and cat to fend for themselves
Justin: but what if he worked that out
Jay: DUDE. Come on.
Jay: If you want, we can go over there after I get out of here and camp out until we figure out whats going on.
Justin: no, seriously, he was far worse than I'd ever seen him the other night
Jay: I dont want you going over there alone though.
Justin: why?
Jay: gut instinct...i dunno....
Justin: oh that's great
Justin: what... I'll find the body
Jay: no.....not that
Jay: but if hes not there, you'll get more antsy.
Jay: i want to be there for you thats all
Jay: justin......u there?
Justin: yes
Jay: what are you doing?
Justin: thinking
Justin: replaying conversations
Jay: freakin yourself out?
Justin: dude, I'm just as smart in this game as you are
Justin: I appreciate the effort
Jay: i think you're looking for more meaning in some things than there is
Justin: and even if you didn't, you'd tell me that
Jay: **hug**
Jay: can i do something?
Justin: no, I'm gonna drive over to [his workplace] and see if I see his car
Jay: do you want me to go with you?
Justin: no, it's fine
Jay: are you sure?
Justin: I'll let ya know
Justin: yes
Jay: <---- not happy, but ok
Jay: you're a big boy.

I got in my car and before I'd gotten completely out of the apartment complex, my cell phone rang. It was Jay. He said that Mike was at work, that he'd talked to him. I asked how, and he replied that he'd called the switchboard and asked for him. I never even thought about calling the switchboard.

And then as I started to say, "I'm just scared," the tears started flowing. Jay responded that he knew and that he was, too. Sobbing, I said, "And I don't know how to help." Jay said he knew and understood that, too. I cried through a few more sentences, and Jay asked me if I wanted him to meet me somewhere, but I said I would be ok and drove on to the post office, where I'd been headed before I noticed the pager manual.

I really felt like Mike might have killed himself. I can honestly say that he has the lowest self-esteem I have ever seen in my entire life. And what's completely, entirely ironic is that he's unquestionably the nicest, most selfless person I've ever met... and I don't use superlatives flippantly. I mean, I think my mom's a pretty darn nice lady who's got one heckuva great heart and I'll defend her to anyone who dares say anything bad about her, but Mike is by far a kinder, gentler, more completely giving soul... and this is my MOM we're talking about. To have someone like that see himself as anything less what we all should strive to be really pains me. If only he saw himself in half the light I see him: I really don't know what to do.

Having to have him promise that he won't hurt himself and seeing how difficult it is for him to respond to that request, my heart breaks a little. If he killed himself, I'd never forgive myself for not doing more, for not trying harder.


August 11, 2001 - Saturday

I appreciate the people in my life now more than I ever have before. When Jay called me in the car yesterday, I was so incredibly thankful to have him as a friend. He was taking care of me.

And when we talked about it at dinner last night, he said that he had tried to call three times before that and each time it had gone to voicemail, but he kept calling back. He explained that he had wanted to get ahold of me quickly as he knew I was going to have a release when he told me that he'd talked to Mike, and he didn't want me to be on the freeway for that... He was right. I did start crying.

That's pretty amazing... that he knew that... and that he cared. What an incredible friend; what incredible friends.


August 17, 2001 - Friday

This past Sunday, I was supposed to have dinner with Mike, but when I checked e-mail Sunday afternoon, I found:


I love you, too. But there is something wrong with me...I'm inherently flawed. And I won't continue to drag you into it. I need to figure "it" out but I doubt I'll be able to fix myself. So I can't see you today. I'm not feeling at all well and it would just be a repeat of Wednesday night (and practically every other night). I can't go on like that. A worthwhile person would not do what I do to you. I want you to forget you ever met me and go on with your life. It's remarkably simple; so many others have done it. Maybe in a few months, if I'm better, I'll give you a call, if you want me to. For now I just want you to know that i really do appreciate everything that you've done for me - even though i'm an ingrate who doesn't listen to you or believe you. Good luck with your book, and with Jay, and with everything else you're hoping and planning for. I'm sorry for getting in the way and for insinuating myself into your life. You're a great person who deserves great things. Good-bye.


Needless to say, that wasn't acceptable.

I called and left a couple messages on Mike's machine and in one stated that Jay and I'd be over at his apartment at 7PM if we didn't hear back from him beforehand. He was having dinner with us, like it or not.

Seven o'clock came and we still hadn't heard from him, so Jay and I drove over. When we got there, we saw Mike's car parked on the street, but when we knocked on the front door, no one answer.

Looking through the crack of the window between the windowsill and the bottom of the shades, I could see that the lights were off, too. I suggested that we go around to the alley to see what could see from the back door. We did and Jay turned the knob to find that that door was open.

He hesitated for a second about going in, looked at me for what I thought we should do, and I opened the door, trespassing be damned.

I went inside, Jay followed, and I repeatedly said "Mike?" loudly. No one responded. The dog was barking in the bedroom, but other than that, there were no noises. No TV or radio.

I opened the bedroom door to find Mike laying asleep above the covers in his boxers and a t-shirt. He was startled for a second when he woke to see me standing in his doorway, but he pulled the pillow over his head only a split second before coming back out from underneath it.

Soon, I was sitting on the bed next to him, and Jay had entered the bedroom as well. Mike, however, was still asleep for the most part. When I asked him what he was doing, he'd said he'd taken some sleeping pills to get some rest. Of course, I followed by asking him how many. He said, "2."

After it became obvious that he was not waking up on his own free will, I told him that he was going to have to get out of bed and go have dinner with us. He said that he didn't feel well, and I said that I didn't care.

He layed in bed as long as we'd let him, then he got up, put on a pair of pants, and then walked into the living room to open the front door for us to leave. I shut it and told him that that wasn't happening.

And for the next who knows how long, Mike sat on the couch in his mental barricade while Jay and I tried to get in. Jay told him that he'd have to call the cops to get rid of us and handed him the phone, while I continued with the "we care about you" mantra, adding that he could cuss, punch, or have us arrested, that we we still weren't going away. I told him how I'd been really worried about him and I kept telling how worthwhile he was, but his barricade was impenetrable.

Finally, after Mike repeatedly protested that he wasn't feeling good physically, Jay offered him some options, such as agreeing to lunch the next day and the like. Eventually, Mike half agreed to dinner the next night, and I said I'd leave only with a copy of his door key. The scene continued for a while, with nothing changing and neither side budging, then Mike got up, got his door key, and gave it Jay. Jay asked if it was a spare. Mike replied that it was not, that he'd get the spare from a co-worker the next day, and then Jay said he'd run to Home Depot to have a copy made.

As Jay was getting ready to leave, I told him to check to make sure the key was indeed for that door. He did and then left.

With just the two of us there, I again started relaying how I'd been so worried about him that I'd broken down crying, and this time, I started crying as I said it. That was thing that pierced the mental fortress. Mike started crying, too, and started apologizing for making me cry. He said something about him losing my trust, with checking the key to make sure it worked, and I said that I did trust him but that there was no margin for error. I kept telling him that he was just on the wrong medication, that he was the most worthwhile person I knew, that I'd never forgive myself if he killed himself, and that I'd be there until things were right again.

As I was saying that part about never forgiving myself if he killed himself, internally, I felt like I was orchestrating the emotions. At some level, I was trying to guilt him into not killing himself, and I felt a little manipulative about stating something with such emphasis because I knew the response it would elicit... but it was true. I would always blame myself for not doing more, but I knew, even if he didn't value his own life, he valued mine and wouldn't do something to mess it up. Telling him I wouldn't forgive myself for the rest of my life, in that manner and at that time, was largely to add an extra protection layer of guilt. For that, I felt manipulative and slightly bad, even if the outcome justified the means. I mean, as with the key, there was no margin for error. I had to make certain that as many things were in place as possible to make sure that he wouldn't take the whole bottle of sleeping pills, but I still didn't like being manipulative.

Anyway, my feelings were quite secondary in my mind. We both cried for a bit and then Mike just sat there and let me hug him.

When Jay got back about half an hour later, he could tell that the wall had been broken. And so, still worrying but feeling much better about Mike, Jay and I left and headed back towards my apartment.

The next day, the three of us had dinner, and while Mike still wasn't perky, he was there.

When I had dinner with him the next night, however, he was jovial... even relative to his normal outlook. On Wednesday, he was chipper, to the point of Jay remarking that it was amazing what a switch in medication could do. And, well, last night, Mike wasn't so sprightly, but I didn't worry about him after he left... and I'll take not worrying any day if that's the best I can get.

All I know is that he's gonna be fine... and I'm gonna be around to make sure that he is.


August 22, 2001 - Wednesday

Lately, and especially earlier today, I've been rather a sad sack. I've thought about how I could've made this journal so much bigger than it is now, about how I've never been in a relationship with someone who made me want to hang from the chandeliers, about how I've never even dated a red head, etc., but then today, as I was walking around the apartment complex (shirtless), I realized that the secret is not in succeeding but in the trying.

My book is going to come out in January. People are going to read it... and even if they don't, at least I'll have tried. I won't be wondering. And wondering and regret are so much worse than trying and failing. Granted, I really don't want to fail. I've spent months getting this book ready. I've read it and re-read it critically so many times I've lost count, but this week, it'll go to the typesetter. The insides will be completed, I'll send out review copies while designing the cover, and it will make it to market.

My Date Kissed Another Guy will be a real book, available, at the very least, at Amazon.com.


In April of 2000, I complained that a Flash cartoon game I'd concepted for the site had been in production for over a year and that I was giving up as I just couldn't put anymore effort into it. Well, another year has passed and somehow, though some twists of fate and spontaneous spurs of inspiration, it's finally been completed and is now available via the "Don't Click Here" link in the top right corner of this page.

Part of me is enthused that it's finally debuting on the world, but the other part has wanted to see it done for so long that the actual completion is anticlimactic.

Oh well, it's done. Click it, tell your friends, have fun, etc..

Click here for the next set of entries.

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