Justin's Life...

~ October 2001 ~

October 4, 2001 - Thursday

There's a concept that says reality is a construct. Quite simply that means that you create your reality. And not "you create your reality" in a motivational kind of way, but more like "my reality is not your reality although we share the experience." It's incredibly true.

Last Thursday night, Mike and I had dinner, and when we ordered drinks while picking out what to eat, Mike chose lemonade. The waitress responded to say that it came with only one refill and to ask if that was ok. Mike said yes.

When the drinks arrived, I noted that there was a sugar rim around his and none around mine. I commented that his must've come from the bar, that was the reason for only one refill, and he took a drink, stated that it tasted good, then offered me a sip. I declined, but he looked disappointed in my response, so we talked about that for a minute then I took a drink to appease him. It did taste nice, but I preferred my Pepsi and figured that was that.

The next morning, I got this e-mail:

Thank you for last night. I had a nice time, too. And...well, I feel stupid telling you this (what's new? :) ) but for the record, I wasn't offended when you didn't want to try the lemonade. It was just when I tried it and tasted the sugar around the rim of the glass, it reminded me of the time you brought home the sugar packet from the Red Lobster. Then you put the sugar on your lips and kissed me. That was pretty amazing. :) And afterwards, I had wanted to start calling you "SugarLips" - sort of as my nickname for you. But I didn't because I thought it was too presumptuous and too gay. Anyway, I had lunch with [a friend] today and I had lemonade but it was too bitter. So I added some sugar and it reminded me of that again. I should have just told you that last night but I don't know...I just felt stupid and pointless saying it. So that was what I was thinking. Sorry I didn't tell you then. :(

I responded:

Yeah, you should've just told me. Always... no big deal and no need to feel stupid. I'm a pretty observant guy... I know when you get a hard on on the couch. It's NOT a big deal. It happens to Jay. It happens to me. It happens to you. And if I didn't think you'd beat yourself up about it, I'd say something like "Oh, something's poking me." ;-) The more we hang out, the more relaxed you'll be. I'm certain of it. :)

I thought that was it... but Sunday night, as I was driving Mike home, we were talking about his dreary outlook. He said something about wishing that I cared more about him, like he did for me. That baffled me, and I said as much. I'd busted into his apartment that day, and another day when we were supposed to have dinner but he alluded to cancelling, I left him flowers so just in case he did, he would still have something concrete showing him that I cared. That day, he didn't even bother to call and cancel for sure, nor did he call to thank me for the flowers. I'd been there so much for him and gotten so little back. Indeed, he wasn't going to hang out with me on Sunday, but I told him that while I knew he thought he was sparing me the pain of hanging out with him, he really just made me feel like he didn't want to hang out with me, that I was forcing him all the time. I'd gotten rebuffed and rebuffed and rebuffed, and yet I still kept coming back for more... and he thought I didn't care about him? I was at a loss and really sorta pissed off that all my efforts had gone unappreciated.

But before I elaborated on all the ways he should see that I did care about him, I asked him to articulate why he thought I cared less about him than he did about me. The sugar thing came up: He said that it really meant a lot to him and I just wrote back that it was no big deal. I told him that I did write back but that I said him telling me was no big deal, and that just because I didn't share the sugar thing, that didn't mean I didn't care. I then proceeded to tell him that he couldn't see the forest for the trees. I elaborated on all the ways that he should see that I cared and to say that just because I didn't share the specific things of the sugar and the like, that most decidedly didn't mean that he wasn't special.

We continued talking, he cried, and when he said he didn't want to be alone for the night, I told him that he wouldn't be. I told him to walk his dog then drive back over to my apartment (so he'd have his car to go into work the next morning). -- He did.

Thinking about it now, I'm amazed at how realities of shared experiences can be so different. Those sugar packets are still on my counter, next to my answering machine. Mike's head sculpture hangs on my wall. His toothbrush is still in my bathroom, and there are two vases full of flowers which he brought sitting in my apartment. Sugar on the lips may not bring back those super fond memories for me, but Mike's presence in my life is indubitably here... and I guess that's the real point. Mike's on memories of when we were dating: I'm on the present, where he's my second best friend.


October 9, 2001 - Tuesday

The picture on my Far Side desk calendar for this week shows two fishermen on a boat with three atomic mushroom clouds in the distance. Last night, I dreamt that I was with my brother and saw an atomic explosion coming towards us, realizing that a split minute later, we'd be dead. And today, I was listening to talk radio to hear people discussing Anthrax while I watched two small planes fly overhead beneath the cloud cover in the dreary sky.

Wondering why those planes were flying together on such an uncharacteristically dank day in San Diego and thinking that they might be spreading Anthrax into the air, I chose to be on the safe side and to not get out and go in Wal-Mart, but instead to return to my apartment. The purchases would wait.

But back here, I began an IM to ask a guy I'd gone out with a couple times if he wanted to have dinner. His response was that he thought he was coming down with a cold: That was all my head could take.

Anthrax begins with common cold symptoms, then seven days later, you're dead. Almost no one survives it, and while fewer than two dozen cases of inhaled Anthrax were reported in the U.S. in the last 100 years, a man died of it last week in Florida. Another man who worked in the same building had the spores in his nose but didn't have the symptoms. And it's been reported/confirmed that the hijackers inquired about crop dusting planes from their flight instructors.

You inhale it... and seven days later, you're dead. By comparison, AIDS looks like a leisurely stroll in the park. At least with AIDS, you'd have some time to get your affairs in order and its contraction is based on something with a known risk. With Anthrax, you do nothing more than breath and you've only got a week: That someone would intentionally spread it is fucked up, but these terrorists aren't playing by the rules of war. The rules of war wouldn't let you kill thousands of civilians with biological weapons, but neither would they let you hijack commercial airliners and fly them into civilian targets. If it were "just" a war, Anthrax wouldn't be a big concern... but it's not just a war. The U.S. is attacking, and the terrorists are indubitably going to attack back... and attack dirty.

To that end, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but today I spent far too much money "just in case." I went to one of those online sites offering prescriptions by mail and I ordered Cipro, the antibiotic approved by the FDA for Anthrax exposure. $400.00 to hopefully combat the Anthrax exposure which may come. What if it does come, though? And then I didn't spend the $400. I hope I never have to use it and that the $400 was a waste. I'd gladly give $400 to not worry about this, but I'm giving $400 just to worry a little less -- if the antibiotic is administered after symptoms have started, it's too late. That, too, is fucked up.

So, I know I'm paranoid... but I've never been in a war before.


October 10, 2001 - Wednesday

With a clear sky today and seeing people go about their daily business like nothing's out of the ordinary, I feel especially foolish about the antibiotic ordering I did yesterday... but I can't say I regret it. So I spent $400 on something I'll probably never use and something which would likely not help even if I had the need to use it, but at the time it seemed like a rational decision and I'm not going to go hungry because I spent the money.

So, anyway, I feel a bit foolish... but that's life.


October 11, 2001 - Thursday

Ironically, and somewhat predictably, last night I flopped back to the other side of the Anthrax issue. I was up at least half a dozen times wondering if something I was breathing was going to kill me in a week, and I turned on the TV at least three of those times to see if there was any news of note.

This morning I sent e-mails to Jay and Mike telling them if any city was hit with a bioweapon, I'd likely be heading back to Kentucky for a few months and to ask them to come along. The stress of staying here would simply be more than I could bear, and they're my family: I wouldn't want to leave them behind.

So today's plan is to throw myself into work: hopefully the other thoughts will be pushed out.


October 13, 2001 - Saturday

The Anthrax/bioterror thing is still worrying me, but I slept through all of last night and the night before. I've been busy with work the last two days, and last night I went out on a date as well. Tonight I'm headed to Knott's Scary Farm with Jay, too, so I'm still out there going about my daily business... but I do wonder from time to time if I've already inhaled the fatal breath.


October 19, 2001 - Friday

Lately I've been feeling like my life is one of those romantic comedies where the guy or the gal goes all around looking for their perfect soulmate, only to decide that their perfect soulmate is their best friend who they've loved all along. The audience always seems to know they're going to end up together, but the characters themselves never seem to get it until just the last minute... but I get it. Now the question is, do I do it? And am I right?

I already took the first step. I articulated my thoughts to Jay last week:

Justin: but I must say, I find myself in a confusing place
Jay: oh?
Justin: yeah... while I'm not one who likes to compartmentalize feelings
Justin: I find myself unsure what to do with... you
Jay: how so?
Justin: we click so well
Justin: I find myself wondering what I could possibly find in Mr. so-and-so
Justin: I mean, last night, I wasn't going to have sex with him [my date]
Justin: but I didn't have any problem with (getting) you (going) on the couch the other night (and you shooting off)
Justin: and I think in the near future, I'd have no problem giving my virgin booty to you
Justin: (not that that's my plan)
Justin: just talking out loud here
Justin: trying to articulate my thoughts
Jay: i understand what you're saying
Jay: i can't say that i havent thought similar things
Justin: that's good to hear
Justin: I figured you had
Justin: but at the same time, being the one to say them first is a little scary
Jay: i know
Jay: but part of me wonders if we'd ruin what we have if we went "there"
Justin: yeah, I know that one too
Jay: :-\
Justin: in some ways it's like Larry
Justin: but in others not
Jay: I know that you're not butt-crazy for me and you deserve to be butt-crazy
Justin: I know... but is "butt-crazy" a puppy love concept
Justin: I've certainly been giddy about you lately
Justin: I talked about you WAY too much last night at dinner
Justin: so anyway...
Jay: I know, but you've said it yourself, you're not sexually attracted to me.
Justin: I don't know how much of that is sexual dysfunction and how much is not sexually attracted
Justin: it's like the instant I see them naked, the attraction wanes
Justin: I think it has to do with that being my "limit"
Justin: and all the conservative crap I got beat in my head as a kid
Justin: like last night, as soon as he was naked, the attraction was 1/10th of what it had been beforehand
Justin: it's like I panic
Justin: and know that I shouldn't go any further
Justin: and my brain accomplishes that by shutting down the sexual attraction
Justin: so, as I was gonna say, this isn't going to get "all put into nice little cubby holes" via IM
Jay: i know
Justin: I just wanted to say it
Jay: I appreciate it.
Jay: You definately have the bigger balls. ;-)
Justin: :-)
Justin: *grin*
Jay: I love you.
Jay: I really do.
Justin: I love you, too
Justin: I know
Justin: me too
Jay: Gosh, we are two women.
Justin: well, YOU are
Justin: ;-)
Jay: awww..you're too sweet.
Jay: just like candy.
Justin: well, we know what candy does to teeth
Justin: but wadda you care
Justin: you've already got a head start in that department
Justin: *grin*
Justin: (OK, sue me... I was overly mushy... I have to throw an insult in there or I'll feel too vulnerable)
Jay: ooooo.....
Jay: :-)
Jay: its ok
Jay: i know you're full of shit.
Jay: oh....and for the record --- i did mean it --- i really do like the guy from last night as a person. he's pretty darn good in that department. he's just a little too "into" you for this stage of the game, ya know what i mean?
Justin: yeah, that's what I was trying to comm. to him last night
Justin: he said/I could tell
Justin: that's it's largely because
Justin: he's been 34 years in the waiting
Justin: and now that he can actually taste it
Justin: (so to speak)
Justin: it's all he can do not to eat the entire candy store

So, that's the predicament. On one hand, there's Jay. On the other, there's Brandon (the guy who I was talking about in the IM and with whom I've been out on a few dates). And on yet the other, there's all the potential guys out there who might make me hang from the chandeliers.

I have no idea where anything's going... and as I told Brandon last night at dinner, I'm playing it all by ear. That's as honest and as fair as I can be to everyone.

At least I stopped overly worrying about Anthrax.


October 20, 2001 - Saturday

This morning I had breakfast with Brandon and spent the early afternoon just walking around with him talking. It was nice, and relaxing, and intellectually stimulating. I like pushing him to better accept himself, and I like how he's willing to be nudged along towards being the person he was meant to be. The growth is enviable to watch, and it's nice to know I'm having an impact.

I really have no clue where anything's headed... with anyone. But I'm genuinely liking life lately, and that's all I can ask.


October 27, 2001 - Saturday

This past Tuesday, Brandon showed up at my apartment unannounced. That in itself was fine; I appreciated him wanting to see me, but as things progressed that afternoon and as we ended up messing around, I realized that he wasn't reading me at all. I'd talked to him before about how I thought he was too into me for how much me he knew me and he had admitted to wanting to be in a relationship, but it was the messing around that was the concrete evidence that made up my mind it wasn't going to work.

Tuesday afternoon, I gave signals, some pretty obvious verbal ones even, that I wasn't into what was happening, but things happened nevertheless. I don't regret what happened, and indeed, nothing that unusual did happen, but I pretty much decided right then and there that it wasn't going to work out. I need to be read and to know that I don't need to say everything in absolute detail.

So last night, Brandon and I were supposed to go see a movie and have dinner, but when he got here at my apartment, I had to have the talk. He subsequently didn't want to go out at all. I'd figured, perhaps naively, that we'd simply behave the same, minus the kissing part, but Brandon left shortly after arriving here and I felt deflated.

I hated knocking the wind out of his sails as well, but it had to be said.

And now today, Jay's out of town, Mike's at work, and I went to the movie alone. For the past 18 hours, I've been lonely. I'd almost forgotten how it felt, but I remember now: it sucks.


October 28, 2001 - Sunday

Friday night, after Brandon left and I was all dressed up with nowhere to go, I decided that I wasn't staying in and moping about. Instead, I figured I go to the bar and hang out for a bit.

When I got there, I walked around, but I didn't see anyone who looked familiar or who caught my fancy. I ordered a drink and wondered what the heck I was doing: I certainly wasn't going to tell Brandon it wasn't working and find a new prince all in the same night. And I still hadn't figured out what I was doing with Jay. -- I just didn't want to stay at home, watching TV or goofing off on the computer.

Soon, though, as I was trying to figure out what to do, a guy came up and asked if I was Justin. I said that I was and asked if he was Miguel in return: He was. We'd talked online a bit and he'd been hesitant about sending a picture to the point where when he did send it, it was too little too late, but we'd subsequently talked about meeting at a bar one night when we were both going to be there. It just hadn't happened.

So, anyway, I talked to Miguel for a split minute then he said he and his friends were heading to another bar. I had no reason to stay there, so I went along.

Yet an hour or so later, I headed back to my car, having exchanged no looks and no phone numbers: at least I'd gotten out of the house.

The next night, I again found myself with nothing to do, so back out to the bar I headed. It was the Saturday before Halloween, a fact of which I hadn't thought, so people were in costumes everywhere. When a guy tapped me and started talking, I talked in return, but I had no idea if he was cute or bugly as sin. His conversation was there, but it wasn't charming enough to make me wonder what was under the makeup. I left that first bar five minutes after arriving and started walking towards the second one where I'd gone with Miguel and his friends the night before.

As I was walking down the street, though, I realized that I'd met the guy in front me three previous times. I didn't know his name, but when he turned around and recognized me, he didn't know mine either, so it was ok.

Anyway, I started talking with him and his friends as we walked to the second bar. Shortly after we got there, Miguel arrived as well and said hello.

As the night progressed, I walked around looking for a cute short guy to talk to and soon found one playing pool. He was busy into the game but gave me a couple smiles, so I walked up to him, grabbed his arm, and said something like, "I don't want to interrupt your game, but I just wanted to tell you that you're incredibly cute." He said thanks and talked to me for a minute, but I didn't really get the "I'm into you" vibe back. I stood watching him for a game or two, then another guy came up to me and asked if I was Justin. I said, "Yes" and he proceeded to tell me how he'd e-mailed me a while back.

He then went on to say that the journal really helped him when he was coming out two years ago, and internally I was like, "Wow." I mean, he marked the third time that someone's recognized me randomly, but it was the first time that the person had known me because of the site first and not the personal ad. Him coming up and telling me that I'd helped him out was just koool. Yeah, I'd heard it in e-mail and yeah, I'd been told by people that I was meeting on purpose, but something about the unplanned nature of him coming up and telling me made it all the more special. And indeed, it was just the kick I needed to get back on track with the book. (Typesetter costs/issues have been more than I'd anticipated, so I'd put the book on the back burner while I've been working on getting my income up.)

He said good-bye shortly thereafter, and I stood watching the short pool player for a bit then got a pen, wrote down my phone number on a card, and gave him to him saying that I'd be happy to take him out to lunch/dinner/coffee sometime. I don't expect to hear from him, but what'd I lose from trying?

Anyway, I soon headed back to my car and on home. I wrote Brian (the guy who came up and talked to me) before heading to bed, too... I sure do have an interesting life.

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