Justin's Life...

~ July 2001 ~

July 5, 2001 - Thursday

My mood as of late has ranged everywhere from "I can conquer the world" to "I feel so incredibly lost." One day, I feel like everything is on track and things are getting done, and the next, I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and I wonder what's the point of my even being here.

Take yesterday for example: On one hand, Jay and Mike came over and we had a group cookout. Each of us helped prepare the food and we watched Jerry Springer as we ate it. It was nice and special and genuine. Neither of them was making a "guest appearance": They both wanted to be here, and each of us, with our parental based families thousands of miles away, embraced the others to form this new family.

Yet at the same time, I couldn't help but think back to how last year I was in Hawaii on July 4th. I was there, part of a solid family. I was loved, really loved. And now, I'm part of a new family which definitely has love in it, but it's much more of a transitory love. It's a new love, with new love frailty. One big fight and it could all go away.

Pondering the bad, it seems like forever since I last went on a real date. Pondering the good, I think I'm starting to see some results from going to the gym, which is the motivation I need to keep going.

Life lately seems to be several little events connected with a bunch of lost/down time. I feel like I'm sitting around waiting for something to happen, or when I make something happen, it happens and then I'm back to square one. The paths don't go anywhere.

The other night, I went out to dinner with "Hey ya" guy from Rich's last month. I'd called him before leaving for Kentucky to say that I'd be out of town, and he'd called me the Monday after I got back to say that he was still interested in hanging out. Yet at the end of our dinner, he told me that he was seeing someone. Here I thought it'd been a first dinner on the path to a possible relationship, and he'd known it was just towards friendship the whole time. As I told him, it was like I went into a car dealership and was given the presentation, and I wasn't quite sure I wanted to buy the car, but then the salesman told me, "I'm sorry. This car's not for sale."

It was an awkward ending to the dinner, for sure, but we've played phone tag a couple times since then. I don't know where it's going. I don't even know if I want it to go.

I don't know... and I have a feeling this journal entry reads as lost as I feel... which I guess is the point.


July 9, 2001 - Monday

Thursday night, Jay and I had planned on going to the cowboy bar for line dancing lessons, but as we approached the bar door, I realized that I'd left my ID in my gym wallet. I'd been carded twice the week before; there was no way I could pass with out it, so back to my apartment we headed.

With my ID secured, we went back to the cowboy bar and watched from the sideline as people on the dancefloor proceeded through complicated dance steps with ease. There was no way we were catching up... so we left.

After eating dinner, we headed back once more and as we entered the dancefloor area, Mike came up from behind Jay. I'd invited him along on his answering machine, but I didn't think he'd come, especially having not called back to make sure we were there.

Anyway, the night proceeded and the three of us started making eye contact with other patrons. Initially, a full fledged cowboy caught my eye, but upon going over to him and saying hello, I saw that he was quite a few years older than he'd originally appeared. I talked to him for a few minutes then headed back to stand with Jay and Mike.

A while later, I was at the bar getting a second rum and Coke for myself when a cute, shorter cowboy came up beside me. He didn't look in my direction, but I looked in his as he was damn cute with sideburns, pale skin, and freckles. I continued looking in his direction but his eyes never even came my way. "He must be taken," I thought to myself as I headed around the bar, but nonetheless, when I got to the other side, I stared directly at him across the bartender area. He looked right at me, but he didn't smile. "Taken," I once again thought as I watched him pay for his drink and walk back over to the dance area.

So still determined and having already had a full rum and Coke for encouragement, I told Jay and Mike about this new cute cowboy I'd found while at the bar. They looked over in his direction and I continued with my best smile/stare.

Eventually, the cowboy winked... and it was the cutest damn wink I'd ever seen. I even jumped and down and enthusiastically told Mike and Jay, "The cowboy winked at me! The cowboy winked at me!" Before long, the cowboy winked again and I braved walking over to him.

He introduced himself as Todd and we began talking. We talked about his complete cowboy outfit and about growing up. I complimented him on his dancing and well, we just sort of hit it off. As opposed to me thinking, "This is going no where. How do I get back to Jay and Mike?" like I did with the first older cowboy, I was thinking about how I really found this guy attractive. And speaking of that, I actually said, "You're so damn cute," to the cowboy at least three times: two 16 ounce rum and Cokes make me a little giddy.

Anyway, we talked for a while then he said he was going to go smoke and asked if I wanted anything to drink. I thought for a few seconds as I'd already had two, but after teetering for a bit, I said I'd like another rum and Coke. He left the dancefloor area and I walked back over to Mike and Jay.

As I was telling them about Todd, Mike said he was leaving as he had to get up early the next morning, and Jay and I said ok. We both doubted that that was the true total reason for Mike's departure but instead we figured it was largely because he didn't care to see me flirt with another guy... but Jay and I both knew that I couldn't not flirt because he was there.

So Mike left and I was slightly worried that he'd gone away upset but he didn't evidence it and I was too giddy to fret. Soon Todd returned and I began drinking my third rum and Coke while Jay, Todd, and I talked. Every now and then, Todd would go dance with a friend of his on the dance floor, and Jay and I would talk about him while he was out of earshot. That went on for a while, but before long Jay mentioned that it was Thursday night and that he had to go to work in the morning. Todd offered to drive me home, but I declined. He then said that he would walk us out and proceeded to walk to the car with Jay and me.

Standing next to it, the three of us talked for a few more minutes then I said goodbye, gave Todd a quick peck on the lips, and fell into the passenger's seat. I was in bed and asleep before I knew it.

The next evening, Todd and I went out on a date... and opposed to the hatted, tight jean wearing cowboy I'd seen the night before, Todd was dressed rather clubby light. He still had that pale skin and freckles and he was still cute, but for the entire length of the dinner, I was an ass. I poked and prodded and insulted... to the point where I was apologizing for it before the movie we saw afterwards began. When we parted ways in the parking lot, he kissed me a few times, but I truly wondered if I'd hear from him again.

Saturday evening, he left a message on my machine, and last night we had dinner then came back to watch TV at my place. I don't know where it's going, if anywhere, but I have the strangest apprehension about him. I think my being an ass on Friday was some sort of compensation for being so gung ho the night before, but that still doesn't explain why I'm uneasy around him. I mean, I don't care for the smoking, but that doesn't explain uneasiness. I think at least part of my apprehension comes from his eagerness to make out. With all that happened with the Marine, I'm apprehensive about someone being so desirous of physical closeness in such a short period of time, and now, armed with the knowledge that I really didn't like it, I'm strong enough to make sure it doesn't happen again, but I'm still a little leery when someone I barely know seems insistent on making out when I'm indicating that I'd rather watch TV and take the physical intimacy thing slower.


Saturday afternoon, I talked on the phone with Chuck, the red head from L.A.. I had only expected it to be a quick hello as he was in the midst of editing his movie, but we talked for around 20 minutes before I told him that Jay had arrived and we needed to go have lunch. The conversation was light/fun/interesting and before it was through, we'd arranged to have dinner this coming week.

Later that night, I wrote him e-mail:


Hey there... by myself once again and I wanted to e-mail you before I headed off to bed just to say it was nice talking to you today. As I told Jay during lunch, I'm actually quite looking forward to meeting you in person as our paths have seemingly crossed over and over with never actually intersecting... until now. ;-)

Anyway, you said you hoped to talk to me again before we met up in real life. What hours do you keep? ;-) Feel free to call here anytime between 9:30AM and 11:30PM. I tend to wake before then and go to bed a little later than that, but if you use that as a general guideline, you'll catch me at my wide awake best. ;-)

OK, I'm off. Hope your editing went well,

--- Edited For Clarity ---

Half an hour later, the phone rang, and nearly two hours after that, at around 2:30AM, we said goodbye. The conversation had it's "oh no here we go again" moments where we clashed opinions on the slightest things (like facial hair) but for the most part, it was good... and I went to bed still looking forward to meeting in real life.

Now, it's Monday and we're having dinner on Wednesday night. We're meeting at 9PM, after he's done with work, so I secured a hotel room rather than impose by sleeping on his couch (which he offered) or by risking driving back to San Diego late. I'm still really looking forward to the meeting even though I have no idea what to expect. It is odd, though. I'm very much eager to see how it turns out, to close a chapter in my life or to start a new beginning, as Chuck said/agreed, but I'm not apprehensive about it. I'm already comfortable around Chuck... even though we've never really met and our past hasn't exactly been consistently congenial.


July 13, 2001 - Friday

I didn't speak with Chuck on Monday, but I left a message on his machine and he left one on mine later that evening. Tuesday came and we didn't talk once again, but I figured it was due to his hectic work schedule and that was that. Then Wednesday arrived, and I was enthused with the idea of meeting him in real life... until I got a three line e-mail around 4PM.

In it, Chuck said that he'd made reservations at 9:15PM and that I could pick him up at his apartment at 9PM. That was good... but he closed with, "My sister is in from out of town, so I can't stay out long, but long enough to have a couple of martinis and some fun talk."

"What?" I thought in disbelief. I was driving all the way to L.A. and I'd spent $100 on a hotel room, and all the time I was worth was two drinks? I checked online to find out more about where he'd made reservations... and it was a martini bar! I didn't even merit dinner? I mean, the review said that the place had "a little Cal(ifornia) cuisine on the side" but that it was a "place to drink." ARGH!

I was distraught... but I knew I sometimes overreact, so I called Jay for his take on it. Unfortunately, from what I told him, he agreed with me, but it still didn't add up. I knew that Chuck had just decided to call it quits before, back in 1996, with no real explanation, but was he preemptively doing the same now?

Aggravated and confused, I continued to get ready and started heading north around 6PM. At 10 minutes before 9PM, I arrived at my hotel, checked in, then sped over to Chuck's apartment.

He opened the door and got into my car... and then the chronology of the next couple hours is a little fuzzy. I can't recall in which order what happened, but I do know between the time I picked him up and the time I dropped him off: I told him how I'd read his e-mail, and he apologized by saying that he hadn't intended it to sound like he was giving himself an "out" but instead he just wanted to let me know how he couldn't hang with me late into the night no matter how the night went. He further explained that it was a good thing that I hadn't taken him up on his offer to sleep on the couch as his sister's unexpected visit had put her there. That was all I needed to hear: It all added up. He had wanted to spend time with me, but circumstances simply dictated that it be a short time.

During dinner (they did serve real food), I also remember Chuck telling me to take a deep breath and then after I exhaled it, he pointed out how my shoulders had been up in tenseness the entire night. I responded by saying that I felt like I had only a limited amount of time to make a good impression, that I felt like I was "on the clock."

And... I remember that there seemed to be a lot of apologizing going on; a lot of miscommunication. For example, I was telling him that he didn't have to sign the credit card receipt with his real name (as receipts don't leave the restaurant for signature verification unless the card owner disputes the charge), but before I could explain why, he took it as me saying that he was taking too long to write his signature. Stuff like that punctuated the night.

All in all, I'd had better first dates, and after dropping Chuck off at his apartment, I went back to the hotel, down that the night hadn't gone swimmingly and that in my short time to make a good first impression, I'd failed in securing that doe-eyed mesmerization. Heck, I felt like I'd even failed to secure a second date, let alone enchantment... Yet on some not yet conscious level, I knew it wasn't over.

And then yesterday as I drove back towards San Diego, I gave Chuck a call at 9:15AM. We talked for a few minutes and he asked if I'd checked my voicemail at home. I said that I had at around 8AM, but he told me that I should check it again. We talked for a little longer and I offered to drive back up on Friday or Sunday night to give it another whirl without the time constraints, but he said he would be working and then he was heading out of town for the rest of the coming week so it would have to wait. I said ok and a few minutes later called my answering machine.

On it, I found a message where Chuck told me that I needn't worry about making a first impression for him, that it took several interactions for him to make an impression, and that the best impression was that I drove all the way up there, took time out of my schedule, and got a hotel room, just to have dinner with him. He threw in some other flattering stuff, too, and he had told me twice the night before that I was as cute as my pictures. I was happy.

But I do find it amazing. Taken on the surface, it was one of the worst first dates I ever remember having. Normally, I would be certain that after that, that would be it... but there was something there, something worth exploring further. I likened it to Jay as though I'm a complicated puzzle piece and is Chuck. The two edges haven't fit together perfectly, but there's definitely something about them that seems to go together. Stepping away from myself a bit, I can see that normally I'm a complicated puzzle piece and the other person I tend to go for is much more in the formation stage. They conform around my puzzle piece for a while then change shape again. Chuck's got a defined shape and I do, too. That's what makes it interesting. It's rare to find and definitely worth pursuing.


July 17, 2001 - Tuesday

Sometimes I feel so tired/confused/angry/aimless/aggravated/purposeless/lost that I can barely stand it. Yesterday was one of those days. Yesterday, I sat teetering on the point of tears... with eyes welled up, but I couldn't let myself cross that threshold and just full-on cry. I had to remain strong... for what reason, I do not know... perhaps because I feel that if I'm not, no one else will be for me.

It's been almost a year since I moved out, and while I have gained a little more insight into who I am, I still have no real clue as to where I want to go. I miss having someone love me. I miss having the kids around. I can do pretty much whatever I please whenever I please, but to what end? "So what?" I ask myself. Is that what life is all about? Being able to do whatever you please? I don't think so.

Finances are worrying me, love life is worrying me, pretty much everything is worrying me. Why am I so freaking unhappy? Or better yet, what would make me happy? How can it change when I don't even know what I want?

Jay told me yesterday that I'm bright, talented, and have the power to shape reality and that one of my biggest problems is that I see myself as inadequate. I am bright and talented and have the power to shape my reality... and I do see myself as inadequate. Fear of disappointing those whose opinions I value is one of my biggest issues, and in some ways, I feel like I have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

You know, I'm so afraid of failing, I'm paralyzed to the point of not trying. Heck, I'm so afraid of failing, I'm paralyzed to the point of not even knowing what to not try. I can't even get to the point where I think, "I can't do that because I'll fail." My mind is so afraid of failing, it won't let me find something to try. How messed up is that?


July 20, 2001 - Friday

My spirits have made a marked improvement since earlier this week, and while I still have no defined path to follow, I am trudging forward. I sent off a query letter to a gay publisher, and I arranged a meeting next week with a writer friend of Chuck's to pick his brain and to discuss the books he's published.

Visiting Barnes and Noble this morning, I also realized that a lot of books are out there and there's no reason why mine shouldn't be one of them. I am going to do it... and knowing that, the "how's" become a lot easier to bear.


July 23, 2001 - Monday

Last night I drove up to L.A. to have dinner with Chuck at his apartment... and, well, it was a pretty darn nice night. Shortly after arriving, I was standing in the kitchen watching him prepare the food when I asked him if I was looking cute. I further explained that I'd gone and bought new clothes for the evening, giving the implied compliment of him being worth new clothes, and he countered with something like, "I haven't told you how cute you look tonight?" He then took a couple steps in my direction and kissed me twice before stepping back and saying something about hoping he hadn't been too forward. I said that he had not. Truth be known, I had wanted to just grab and squeeze him in my arms as soon as I'd walked in the door. Having only heard from him sparingly in the week and a half since we first met, I welcomed his "forwardness." It let me know -- beyond the cooking dinner for me -- that he was interested.

As the night progressed, Chuck told me that the wine I'd brought was a nice wine, but that it needed to age another couple of years. I was a bit thunder stolen, but he added that he had a special bottle of wine that he wanted to open for the evening anyway. He elaborated to say that he'd only had it five times before and that it could only be purchased one place in the U.S.. He was cooking me dinner and he was opening a very special wine: I was impressed.

Soon dinner was ready and we ate it as we watched Sex and The City. Afterwards, we layed on the couch a bit, exchanged kisses, and talked. It was nice and relaxed and comfortable. He was an excellent kisser, too. Nothing too intense, but not stolid either.

Yet at around 10:30PM, it was time for me to go home. We said goodbye at the door and I started my drive back to San Diego... very pleased at how the night had transpired.


July 25, 2001 - Wednesday

Isn't it ironic that when the guests on Jerry Springer confess their affections, we have instant answers for them and what they should do? And when a guests' actions don't follow logic within the little snippet of reality the audience has been presented, we mentally berate them... thinking, "Well, duh. How could they be so stupid?"

Yet when it's our own lives and the whole reality is there, the choices aren't so obvious. When we are able to step back from the situation, that viewpoint is at the forefront only very temporarily as our "hearts" quickly push our "minds" back into second place. We step back to see what's going on, only to end up right back in the middle of it a couple thoughts later. Why is that? And when our heart is fighting for control, how much should we try to temper it?

My problem is that my heart's an extremist. It works best with lots of attention or none at all. Indeed, many aspects of my personality are like that: I don't like tasks hanging over my head. I'm either gonna do them and they get done, or I'm not gonna do them and I don't need to worry about it. But this mindset didn't come about because I may replace the shower head; it's because I find myself very much attracted to Chuck... and I haven't heard from him since I left his apartment Sunday night.

I know he's busy, far busier than anyone to whom I've ever been attracted before, but I find myself caught up in worrying if he still finds me attractive. Using the precedent of having a regular work schedule, the answer to that question is that he does not as he would have called or written an e-mail or something, but Hollywood has a whole different reality. Indeed, having spent more money in the production of his film than most will earn cumulatively having worked their entire adult lives, shouldn't that be his total priority? -- So, I guess, ironically, having just typed that last sentence, I do understand why he hasn't called. And ya know what, for the next few minutes, I'll be fairly sure he does still like me... I've just got to stop doubting myself and make that thought stick.

Romance is a crazy, wonderful thing.


July 28, 2001 - Saturday

I've decided to kick down my interest in Chuck quite a bit. He's just too busy with his film to even contemplate anything more than a date here and there. Once he's done with that, time may not be such an issue for him, but I gotta live life in the interim. I'm just gonna play it all by ear, and we'll see.

But I have decided to kick up the publishing of my book. Meeting with Chuck's friend this past Tuesday gave me the "Do just what I did: It works" inspiration I needed, and for the past few days, I've been following the steps outlined in the book he recommended. A few things aren't clear and a couple steps have changed considerably since that book was published, but I am going to do it. My book will be published in 2001.

Oh, AND I picked up my diploma yesterday... FINALLY!

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