Justin's Life...

~ September 2001 ~

September 7, 2001 - Friday

A lot has happened since I last wrote: Here's the condensed version.

Wednesday night last week, Jay and I went to the bar to see if the short military guy was there. Finding that he was not, we left about twenty minutes later.

The next day, I wanted to return once again, but as opposed to the night before, I wanted to go "out on the prowl" if the short military guy wasn't to be found. Yet, when we got to the bar, Plan B wasn't needed as he was sitting in the same place as he had been on Monday night. I went over, got a drink, and walked towards him. He wrapped his legs around me, and I proceeded to harass him about his phone number not working.

He explained that he'd called them and that they were working on it, and I tried to make sure he understood how it looked from my perspective.

Anyway, long story short, we hung out together until after midnight on Thursday, then I picked him up at the base for dinner on Friday. When I dropped him off at the gate once dinner was done, he said he'd call me sometime during the weekend, but saying "bye" as he got out of the car was the last I heard from him. Truth be known, I was largely apathetic about whether he called or not. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but there just wasn't any spark... that's why I told him that he could call me if he wanted to go out again. If he was going to call, I was willing to give it another shot, but I wasn't going to chase him. I just really didn't care that much.

Amazingly (I hardly believe it myself), I haven't called his number once since I saw him at the bar. I don't even know if it works: That pretty much says it all.

In other news, I met a guy from online on Sunday morning who's gone cuckoo for Justin puffs. He's 19 and a sweet kid, but he's just that: a kid. He's dealt with more than his fair share of shit growing up which has also caused us to have vastly different perspectives, but maybe we can be friends.

This morning, though, I had to tell him that I'm starting to feel smothered, which I'm sure he didn't like, but at the current rate of "can I call you later tonight?/can I call you in the morning?/can I come over before work?/can you come over tonight?," I'm gonna be overloaded very soon. Knowing that he wants me in his life, I felt it was important to tell him that he needs to take a chill pill before I shut down completely. I guess I'll see how well he does that.

I also had lunch with two different guys during this past week, too. The first, on Tuesday, asked me what I thought of him at the end of the meal, and I said something along the lines of him being "ok." We didn't not hit it off, but we didn't click either. If he were out and we were at the same place, we'd say "hello" and talk for a bit, but I couldn't see myself just hanging with him.

Yet, the next day I got an e-mail which started, "For some reason, I woke up early this morning and just couldn't get back to sleep. I've been thinking about you a lot since we met, and not out of any lust for your body. There was just something about you that really impacted me...in ways I don't quite understand yet." He went on to say, "I'd really like to get to be able to get to know you as a friend. I felt something very powerful and unique in your spirit, and would love to see you again (as a friend). In the past 11 years that I've lived in Hillcrest, I've met perhaps 2 other people who have had this kind of impact on me. I can't explain it exactly...I just like your outlook and perspective on life. It's like a kindred spirit kind of thing."

What does one do when one has a one-sided kindred spirit?

The guy I met yesterday also wrote me a "thank you for lunch" e-mail but it was a lot more tame. He has a boyfriend, so there's no romance in the picture, but we clicked fairly well: We'll hang out again.

So, as I said, it's been a VERY busy week... (and in case it's not apparent, I'm in a VERY weird mood.)


September 11, 2001 - Tuesday

This morning, the phone rang and I looked at the clock to see that it was just before 6AM. I figured it was some moron to whom I'd given my number, so I stayed in bed and let the machine pick it up. From under the covers, I heard Mom leave a message telling me that there was a fire in the World Trade Center building, asking if Larry had a coffee store there. I thought she must've just gone clueless about the time difference, and I ignored my cell phone as it rang a couple seconds later.

A couple minutes passed, and again the phone rang. It was Mom once more and I let the machine answer this time, too. She again told me to turn on the TV and watch the news. I thought about getting out of bed to go to the living room and see, but then I remembered that I'd hooked up the small 13" TV to the cable outlet in the bedroom. It was still in the floor, behind some junk, but I could watch it without fully awaking.

Anyway, I turned it on to see smoke billowing out the side of one of the two towers. OK, it was on fire. It wasn't good, but it wasn't wake me up at 6AM to watch either... and then a plane flew into the side of the other building.

It wasn't a military style plane... it was the same type I'd flown on the day before. It looked like a commercial airline passenger jet... and it flew right into the side of the building... and exploded.

As the news coverage went on, it was revealed that two airplanes had been hijacked, and those were the ones that smashed into the buildings. Undoubtedly, the passengers on those had been intentionally killed, and people within the buildings had been slaughtered to spread some stupid religious message.

I continued watching... and then the coverage showed that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. A military stronghold, I could half way appreciate. Yes, it was an act of violence, and yes, a hijacked plane was used as the weapon, but at least the target was military. Hijacking the passengers and using them as a weapon to kill other innocent people: that was unfathomable.

A few minutes later, the television showed one of the World Trade Center towers collapsing on itself. Although the plane had hit near the upper third, the whole 110 story building came down. Half an hour later, the first World Trade Center tower collapsed completely as well. I'd been in that building. I'd gone up there to the observation level last year. I'd been up in the Stratosphere in Las Vegas on Sunday. Random tourists were there, looking at the high view just as I'd done... And the news coverage kept restating how this was where 50,000 people worked on a typical weekday like today.

I continued watching in disbelief: They reported that all air traffic was being shut down and planes were being ordered to land at the nearest airports throughout the U.S.. They reported that another airplane was hijacked and crashed in Pennsylvania. Four simultaneously hijacked planes and two of the largest buildings in the world destroyed. This was no small fire.

And now, here several hours later, there's this weird sense of chaos and teetering on crying. I always wondered what war felt like from the point of view of people involved. Now I think I at least have an idea.

It's like there's nothing I can do to help, but work and other little things all seem so pointless with this going on. Jay's been sent home from work, Mike wrote me e-mail inquiring about Larry, and I talked to Larry for just a few seconds on the phone, enough to know that he's in L.A. and fine.

I have to wonder what the people who live in Manhattan are feeling. I wonder about those who thought they escaped, only to have the building come crashing down on top of them. I wonder about those on the plane who had no idea that their hijacking wouldn't even involve an attempt at negotiations. And ya know what, when the news coverage showed Middle Eastern people cheering in the streets at the destruction, I just wanted to blow them the fuck away, the kids and women included. I mean, I can see someone being indifferent about someone else dying, but I cannot see how anyone could cheer at someone else's death when those people had no direct impact in their lives. As much as I flinch at even killing ants in my apartment, I would have no problem killing them. They serve no purpose in the world.

ARGH! They keep playing the video of the plane crashing into the second building. From the most played/clearest viewpoint, the second building is directly behind the first. You see the plane flying towards the building from the right and then a big explosion coming out the left side. It's a plane. A real freaking plane, with scared passengers and crew on board. It's not a digital effect. It's not Hollywood trickery. It's real... and it flies right into the building, on purpose, and explodes, killing all the people inside.

I think that's the most disturbing: I've seen buildings demolished before, so on some level, the fact that those buildings still had people in them doesn't quite fully register, but I've never seen a passenger airplane fly into a building and explode in flames.


September 21, 2001 - Friday

It's been ten days since I last wrote, and while I have had little life observations personally, they've all seemed so trivial in light of the current states of affairs. Yet, as to that, I've also noted things about us as humans.

In terminology, I've noticed that no one wants to articulate what's been happening. Euphemisms abound, and we all talk about it because it's impossible not to talk about it, but at the same time, we dare not speak it in concrete terms. It's just too unbearable, too saddening, too unfathomable. We talk about "what's been happening lately," "the whole thing in New York," or sometimes "the terrorists," but no one says, "I can't believe terrorists killed 5000+ people by hijacking the planes and ramming them into the buildings." At most, it's, "I can't believe those terrorists killed all those people." If we talk about it in generic terms, it's somehow more bearable. And yet we can't stop talking about it.

American flags are everywhere. And I mean, EVERYWHERE. On cars, in apartment windows, in store windows, at restaurants, on address marker signs, flying below blimps, on billboards, on sides of buildings, fashioned out of soda can displays at the grocery store; everywhere. And yet curiously enough, when I was driving in the car earlier today and talking to David in Kentucky, I asked him, "Are there flags everywhere back there?" He said that there were and asked if they were here, too. I said yes, and then he said, "It's the thing to do," or something to that effect. I knew he meant that it was the "proper" thing to do, but I heard it as though it was the "faddish" thing to do, like, "everybody's getting an armband tattoo. It's the thing to do."

My car doesn't have a flag on it, but I've thought about printing one out and adhering it to the window. Is it because I want to put a flag in the window, or is because everyone else is putting a flag on their cars? Would I put a flag on my car if everyone else hadn't? I'm certain I would not. So why would I put one on it if everyone else has? How much of that is "I'm proud to be an American" and how much is "I want to be like everyone else"? And more importantly, what does it say about us, as the "free" people, when our minds are so easily influenced to become part of the group, without any real thought about individualism? Indeed, is this how Christianity has existed for ages? Simply get enough people to be part of the group and others will follow along.

And so, those are my observations. For the most part, life continues as normal... at least here in Southern California.


It still doesn't quite seem kosher to talk about my life... -- I almost just wrote "in light of all that's happened lately" --, but life continues.

Before the terrorists attacks, Jay, Mike, and I went to Las Vegas. After initially deciding that he was no longer going on the morning we were to leave, Mike changed his mind to come along but spent the first day largely in the hotel room. The second day, the three of us all hung out and had a fun time, but I forgot the camera in the room: Below are the pictures from that first day... and a composite image of the head sculptures I had made at the shopping area of the Stratosphere as a souvenir of our trip.

OK, so it wasn't exactly the most enthused entry ever... but at least it was something else.


September 22, 2001 - Saturday

It's ironic. Jay's my best friend, yet I hardly ever write about him. The above pictures are the first time I've included his face online, yet I've known him for four months and we spend 5 or 6 days out of the week hanging with the other.

Indeed, this past Sunday he left a card on my desk and Sunday night, I opened it. It read:

Dear Justin -

Few people on this earth have the "unconditional" love that you do from me. It is rare indeed - Having that friend where words really don't convey the same thoughts as a simple glance. You are an incredible source of comfort and safety. You are more than my best friend - You are my confidant, my compadre and the sibling I never got the chance to have.

We often comment that the other "gets it" - And, to a large part it seems like you've always been there.

I left Maryland 4 months ago today. Part of why I came to San Diego was to figure out how to balance my life -> Thank you for helping me find that balance.

I love you and I love our kinship. Thank you for being you - ego and all - and for being in my life. :)

Love -

The next morning, I wrote back:

Subject: Exlax...


How's that for a subject line? I don't know... it just seemed appropriate.

Anyway, I got your card last night and read it twice... this morning, I read it once more. And I can't say I've never gotten cards like that before: truth is, I get those cards more than my fair share, but the difference between those and yours is that I could write you one back that was the same.

Thinking about it last night and this morning, I realized that the reason we do have this kinship is because, at the core, we are the same... but beyond the core, you have traits that I admire, I have traits that you admire, and we both have traits we'd keep of our own, even though the other thinks his version of those traits is better. :)

If we were totally similar, we'd be like two circles touching each other... they coexist well, but they have no cohesion. We're like two circles with patterned edges: sometimes they line up just right and sometimes they overlap a little, but they work to keep the other going.

You keep me going.

Last night, after you left, Steve (a guy Jay and I've hung out with a few times) talked about how his move to San Diego has left him the loneliest he's ever been. I can't recall when I last felt lonely. Wistful, yes... wondering where that knight in shining armor is hiding... but lonely, no. That's largely due to you.

Thinking about what you wrote in your card, do you realize how many times we've exchanged a glance and how many times the meaning of that glance was received correctly? Sure, sometimes we aren't thinking the same exact thing, but just think how many times we shoot the other a glance and know EXACTLY what the other is thinking. It's incredible.

We're each other's acknowledged best friend, I've dared to say that I would get a house with you, and even when we have other plans, we often end up spending that time or the time afterwards with each other. I think those say it all.

I love you, too. :-P


I think that really does say it all.

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